United Methodist Church still struggling for LGBTQ inclusion

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United Methodist Church still struggling for LGBTQ inclusion

The United Methodist Church (UMC) is still in need of prayer when it comes to full inclusion of its LGBTQ parishioners. In the hopes of avoiding a schism, the Council of Bishops has just recently recommended the One Church Plan that would grant individual ministers and regional church bodies the decision to ordain LGBTQs as clergy and to perform LGBTQ weddings. It is believed that such a decision on a church-by-church and regional basis would reflect the diversity as well as affirm the different churches and cultures throughout the global body of UMC.

The One Church Plan, however, is one of three proposed plans by the UMC’s Commission on a Way Forward. The others include the Traditionalist Plan and the Connectional Conference Plan, both exclusionary to LGBTQ parishioners.

The One Church Plan would excise the offensive and controversial language targeted at LGBTQs from the Book of Discipline and replace it with a more compassion, accurate, up-to-date, and contextualized language about human sexuality in support of the mission and all its parishioners.

The UMC continues to be contradictory in its policies concerning LGBTQ worshippers, and the church's contentious views reared its ugly head at the 2016 meeting of global delegates.

For example, while UMC states that we have and are of the same sacred worth as heterosexuals, and that the church is committed to the ministry of all people regardless of gender identities and sexual orientations. However, the church also views queer sexualities as sinful. The Book of Discipline states that sexuality is “God’s good gift to all persons” and that people are “fully human only when their sexuality is acknowledged and affirmed by themselves, the church and society.”

However, this rule is not applicable to LGBTQs.

Since the church’s conservative and liberal wings merged in 1968 to become the UMC, it has implemented stricter positions against us. In 1972, for example, UMC delegates inserted in The Book of Discipline that as a church body, “We do not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider this practice incompatible with Christian teaching.”

In 1984, the delegates barred from its general conference clerics who were “self-avowed practicing homosexuals.” And in 1996, the UMC gave the ecclesiastical order that prohibited “ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions,” which was affirmed by the Methodists’ high court in 1998. The church also maintains its policy requiring heterosexual clerics to remain faithful in their marriages, and for both unmarried heterosexual and LGBTQ clerics