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LGBTQ Methodists Reeling After Ban Upheld

LGBTQ Methodists Reeling After Ban Upheld

Church leaders return from a conference with apologies, frustrations to air in 'more exclusionary' denomination.

LGBTQ leaders and allies within the Methodist church lambasted a decision to maintain a ban on gay pastors and same-sex marriages.

A Florida church posted a sign apologizing to the community. A lesbian bishop expressed confusion about how it will impact existing members. A Washington gay minister penned an op-ed in a national newspaper slamming his church as "queer-phobic."

Rev. Andy Oliver, pastor for Allendale United Methodist Church in Saint Petersburg, Florida, wrote a message to the community: "For harm done by the church we are sorry." The words appear on the sign in front of the church underneath a series of hearts in rainbow colors.

Oliver told local Fox 13 he thought the church decision send a bad message to his own members, a group that includes LGBTQ congregants.

"When they hear the message that there's a part of my church that says that God does not love them," he said. that is life destroying,"

Karen Oliveto, the church's first out lesbian bishop, told NPR she remains surprised and confused by the decision. She thought because the church had elevated so many individuals within the church, a plan to become LGBTQ affirming would be embraced.

"There are LGBTQ people around the world serving in all levels of the United Methodist Church," she said. "What stunned me was our failure to recognize that, to celebrate it and to say we are stronger because of the faithful witness LGBTQ people have been giving for decades."

And Rev, Will Ed Green, an associate pastor at Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, slammed the move in a written piece appearing in The Washington Post.

"The United Methodist Church is today a more exclusionary, judgmental and queer-phobic denomination than it was when I preached Sunday from one of its pulpits," he wrote.

"Not only has it not flung open its doors to queer people and those who love them. It also has closed and locked a door that was until this conference just barely cracked -- and perhaps ripped itself apart in the process."

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