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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Transcending the United Methodist Vote to Retain Prohibitions on Gay Clergy and Weddings

Delegates meeting at a special session of the General Conference of the United Methodist Church voted on February 26, 2019 to retain the denomination’s ban on gay clergy and same-sex weddings. The alternative plan would have permitted individual congregations to decide for themselves. Clearly, Methodism is not Congregationalism.  The debate was heated on both sides.[1] Transcending them, we may ask whether the heat was overblown. Pope Francis had urged his fellow Roman Catholic bishops and other clergy not to focus so much on that issue and abortion. That urging was itself controversial, which in itself can be read as confirmation that the two issues were getting too much attention and energy. Unlike the case of the Pope’s urging, the vote at the Methodists’ General Conference threatened to split that Church. Can this too be taken as an indication that the emphasis on the issue was disproportionate to its religious importance?