Methodist Church Considers Liberalization on LGBT Issues

The United Methodist Church may vote on liberalizing its stance on LGBT issues in 2016.

BY Michael O'Loughlin

May 04 2014 1:26 PM ET

A rules committee in the Methodist Church is drafting legislation that, if accepted by the church’s governing body, would change its stance on homosexuality and welcome LGBT people fully into the church.

At a meeting in Chicago last week, a committee voted to move ahead with plans to propose an amendment to church law that would “fully include LGBTQ persons in the life and ministry of the church,” according to the United Methodist News Service.

Any eventual proposal by the committee would be brought to the General Conference in 2016.

Dakotas-Minnesota Area Bishop Bruce R. Ough said that the vote is just the first step of a lengthy process before any changes are made.

According to the article, the committee asked itself, “Can the United Methodist Church sustain deep disagreements regarding human sexuality and still remain in unity?”

The group took into consideration that the Methodist Church has been rocked by public dissent from some clergy and bishops over the church’s official view that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” while supporting certain “rights and liberties for all persons regardless of sexual orientation.”

Rev. Mark Teasdale, a professor at Garrett- Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill., said that ““there are people in pain on all sides of this conversation, including the conservative side.”

He identified the tension facing the church as it considers how to address growing acceptance of homosexuality in mainstream society.

“One side says we risk being on the wrong side of history, and one said says we risk being on the wrong side of Scriptural holiness,” he said.

Religion News Service reported last week that the Methodist Church voted to extend benefits to same-sex partners of its employees, while still barring the church from blessing same-sex unions.

A minister at a Methodist church in Seattle recently made headlines by supporting an openly gay scout leader.

Follow Michael O’Loughlin on Twitter at @mikeoloughlin.

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