Methodist Church upholds same-sex marriage ban

Shelby Ruch-Teegarden, center, of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary joins other protestors during the United Methodist Church's special session of the general conference in St. Louis on Tuesday February 26. Picture:
The proposal to ease the United Methodist Church’s ban on same-sex marriage and ordination of LGBT clergy has been rejected. This has caused a lot of anger from members within the denomination, leading some to speculate that the church would likely face a surge in defections and acts of defiance after delegates chose to set the subject aside at a crucial conference.

America’s second-largest Protestant denomination defeated a proposal that would have let regional and local church bodies decide for themselves on gay-friendly policies. 

Former Methodist pastor Rebecca Wilson of Detroit described the decision as a “Devastation”.

“As someone who left because I’m gay, I’m waiting for the church I love to stop bringing more hate,” she said.

The rejection of the “One Church” plan, which would have allowed the churches to perform same-sex weddings and hire openly gay clergy, lost to a 449-374 vote.

It’s been reported that instead a competing measure, known as the Traditional Plan, was proposed by delegates. Under the Traditional Plan the enforcement of the LGBT bans will be tightened and Methodist that are opposed to these ideas are encouraged to leave the church.

The Traditional Plan won the majority and the success is said to be due to the alliance of conservatives from the U.S and overseas, mostly from Africa.

Rev Jerry Kulah of Liberia said that if the bans were eased, “the church in Africa would cease to exist”.

“We can’t do anything but to support the Traditional Plan it is the biblical plan,” he said.

“Today, more than 800 worldwide General Conference delegates affirmed the Traditional Plan as The Way Forward for The United Methodist Church,” Bishop Scott Jones said in a statement. 

“This decision resolves a long-standing debate about how we can best accomplish our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world”.

“Our views on same-sex marriage have not changed. We will continue to welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and queer persons to our churches and affirm their sacred worth,” the statement said.

A pastor from Portland, the Rev Allen Ewing-Merrill, pledged to defy the Traditional Plan, tweeting: “I will not participate in your bigotry, sin & violence”.