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500-Plus Alabama Methodists Apologize for Church's Anti-LGBTQ Stances

Methodist church

An official church body in the state has rejected the idea of an apology, but some Methodists are going ahead with their own.

A United Methodist Church body in Alabama has declined to apologize for the denomination's recent anti-LGBTQ votes, but hundreds of Methodists in the state are sending their own apology.

The North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church decided in June not to apologize for the votes at the denomination-wide General Conference in February that upheld the church's bans on same-sex marriage and LGBTQ clergy. However, a group called the Inclusion Caucus has drafted a letter of apology, and thus far 558 Alabama Methodists have signed it, reports, a website for several Alabama newspapers.

"A lot of us were mortified at the actions of the General Conference," said Inclusion Caucus organizer Reggie Holder, who is on staff at Highlands United Methodist Church in Birmingham. "It really was a call to action, a wake-up call."

"For every time that someone in the church has hurt you because of who you are or who you love, we are deeply sorry; we hurt with you, and we are committed to pursuing God's love and justice with you," the letter reads in part.

Eden Johnson, a member of Birmingham First United Methodist Church who worked on the letter, called it a "love letter." "I identify in the queer community," Johnson told "This is our family. These are our brothers and sisters."

The church, the nation's second largest Protestant denomination (trailing only the ultraconservative Southern Baptist Convention), has been involved in controversy over LGBTQ inclusion for years. There are out clergy at many churches, and some congregations have hosted same-sex marriages. But the denomination has maintained its stance that being LGBTQ is "incompatible with Christian teaching," even after a special session of the General Conference was called this year specifically to deal with those issues. LGBTQ and allied clergy, along with inclusive congregations, can face a variety of disciplinary actions because of the policies, and some clergy members have lost their jobs. This year's vote has caused some congregations to consider leaving the denomination.

Those involved with the Inclusion Caucus still hope the anti-LGBTQ policies can be struck down, perhaps even at next year's regular session of the General Conference. "I think we're showing some resistance," Holder said.

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