The United Methodist Gay Wedding Crisis



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I appreciate your concerns about politicizing the church. I do have some comments. First, though I do not know the detailed history, it is my impression that the two groups that you singled out (Good News and Reconciling Ministries) grew out of concerns for the church and not out of an effort to form a political block. In some cases both of those groups probably have sought to develop political power within the church in order to advance their causes. Part of those moves probably came about because of the nature of General Conference. After all, decisions in the denomination often come down to a vote on policy. To influence that process calls for some political maneuvering. I also must protest the end of your article which, frankly, somewhat degenerated in the direction of a rant. My observation is that conservatives generally are pretty conservative (pun intended) in their behaviors. There are not many churches or pastors who are engaged in the behaviors you describe in the last few paragraphs of your article. Moreover, it is my impression that conservatives address these issues surrounding homosexual behavior with great reluctance, and that most believe that the issue has been forced upon them.

Bill Fitzgerrel more than 6 years ago


I do not understand why this issue cannot be left open to the pastors to exercise their own pastoral judgment as to whether to marry anyone. Within the Church, man-made rules, whether biblically rooted or not that become more important than the spirit and message of Christ do nothing but divide us. I mean we actually have people on this thread advocating that the Church dissolve over this issue. That would be a travesty. If the rule were simply dissolved and individual pastors could make up their minds and use their pastoral judgment, how exactly does that affect the pastors who believe that their positions are biblically rooted and do not wish to perform these ceremonies?
I am not here to convince anyone that I am “right” when I say that I think same sex marriages should be universally accepted throughout every church in the land. But, I am here to say that it should be done when a pastor through careful study, prayer and reflection has determined that it is appropriate for them to do so.
Do any of you honestly believe that Jesus would be willing to sit on a jury determining whether a pastor should be stripped of his duties for performing one of these marriages? Is that really how you see that playing out if he were sitting right here with us?

R. Joseph more than 8 years ago

Thank you for this article

I am a German historian and genealogist. After years of searching for a Church in which I feel home and in which I hope to grow in my believe together with other fellow belivers, I finally joined the United Methodist Church some months ago. And although there are big struggles in this church and obviously even a crisis in the USA, I think that this is the place where I want to live, grow and work as a Christian. I realize that other churches and denominations are the ones which are the most fruitful "breeding grounds" for other people and therefore it is very important for me that the Methodist church has a very strong ecomenical tradition and standing. Our church (or members of our churches) can buildt bridges and has/have done so in the past.

Parts of the struggles and fights in the USA concerning homosexuality seem to be somewhat strange from the German/European viewpoint. In our country not only actors and artists are known as beeing gay or lesbian, but for instance well known politicans of all important parties (like Ole von Beust, former Hamburg mayor of the conservative CDU; Guido Westerwelle, actual German Secretary of State of the FDP and the Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereitof the SPD) are homosexual and this is not a kind of scandal or even a matter of discussion any more. People discuss about their decisions and performances, but not about their sexual orientation. I wish the same will be true same day for all Christians. I hope that we will learn to talk about our love, our responsibility for each other, our families and about our fidelity (and about our struggles beeing a good partner, husband, wife, ...) instead of mainly talking about our sexual orientation (or better to say about the one of others). I am not a theologian, but I have thought and discussed about what the scripture and our understanding of the scripture lead by the Holy Spirit tells us about a lot of things in our world today, including "dealing with homosexuality". Yes, I have my opinion, but I hope and pray that this opinion will not make me blind and deaf for the feelings and arguments of others.

What I hope to learn from this article is:
- not to hope for a 50.1 % win of the next vote about this issue
- not to do all what I can to lauch a pro gay wedding campaign over here
- to try to meet and sit down with brothers and sisters who have a totally different understanding of the scipture and a different opinion in order to speak, to listen and may be to understand - and to pray for each other and together
- to realize that the brothers and sisters who have a different (conservative, evangelical) opionion are not my political enemies, but members of the same church and children of the same God

This might sound very naive for people from "both sides".
I believe that Jesus wants to tell us that we should follow the naive path of love and acceptance, especially in times of struggles and sharp borderlines between the camps of any kind of nature.

Jens Mueller more than 8 years ago

Thank you!

Excellent article!

Pamela Nelson-Munson more than 8 years ago

The United Methodist Gay Wedding Crisis

The points Rev. Guyton raises are ones that have disturbed me the most as we contemplate the great divide in the UMC over gay marriage and ordination. I want to know, really want to know, why those on the other side of the issue feel as strongly as they do. I want to know what they believe at the core. I want to undesrtand. And I want to do this in Christian love. I am a member of the Reconciling Movement; the church I attend welcomes LBGT people

Rev. Mark P. Charlton more than 8 years ago

Why We So Strongly Oppose Gay Marriage / Ordination

I recognize the sincerity of Bishop Talbert - a good Christian man - and others who feel that gay marriage and ordination are civil rights issues. I wish they could feel the same respect for our position.

There is no mystery about why feel strongly that gay marriage cannot be approved by the church. For us, Scripture is our primary authority. The Old and New Testament clearly condemns homosexual practice as sin. (Romans chapter 1 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 are clear examples.) Jesus never contradicted the Old Testament condemnation of homosexuality, or said anything that would indicated that he disagreed with what Scripture taught about homosexual practices. Therefore, our consciences are bound by Scripture. We cannot approve what Scripture condemns. Homosexual practice is not worse than any other sin. But it is the refusal to repent and acknowledge the teaching of Scripture that bars one from leadership in the church. We would oppose ordaining unrepentant heterosexual adulterers, as well.

Our consciences are bound by God's Word. The other side is bound by their consciences as well. That is why there can be no resolution to this conflict. Our positions and our world views are incompatible.

After 40 years of this fight,it is time to stop it. We must separate like Abraham and Lot. We need a called General Conference to resolve this issue once and for all. Too expensive? Yes, but not as expensive as another 40 years of this fight. And however we resolve it, we need to allow those who cannot in good conscience accept the decision to leave the United Methodist Church with their church property and resources, and our blessing. Then both sides can get on with the work of God. The sooner we separate the better.

Or we can fight bitterly for another 40 years. Which is it going to be?

Rev. Mike Childs more than 8 years ago

Why so selective/

Why not oppose sex during mesnturation? Why not oppose Long John Silver's and Red Lobster? Why not oppose Rayon, Dacron, Polycotton and other mixed fabrics? I think you well know the answer - it's because your self-soothing self-serving assertion you oppose decent treatment for our LGBT brothers and sisters out of your own prejudices and you know that. You are not being honest with us or with yourself. Your bigoted stance will be opposed for a thousand years if necessary, but probably not. Just as you don't see slavery apologists speaking at microphones at conferences these days, the antigay contingent won't be around another twenty years from now, except in places like Russia and Chechnya. You don't get to take your marbles and go home. Leave if you must because you oppose justice but leave empty-handed.

George Nixon Shuler more than 8 years ago

Another View Point.

The focus in the article is largely about individual pastor's and congregations that are in covenant with each other, but in our system that is the briefest of covenants and is subject to annual renewal. in reality there are a series of covenants that each of us make lay or clergy at our baptism/confirmation or when becoming a professing member of a United Methodist Church. We first become at our baptisms members of Christ's Universal Church, Then a member of the United Methodist Church and finally a member of a particular United Methodist Church. Refer to Baptismal Covenant One in the Hymnal or Book of Worship in the hymnal the applicable pages are 37-38.

So if our first commitment is to Christ we must follow him as United Methodist we look to Scripture and then to Tradition and then to Experience (with the Holy Spirit) and then to Reason for Guidance. The first breakdown in our denomination is we have lost a common understanding and obedience to scripture. As to this article it focuses on the obeisance or disobedience of one pastor in the context of one church, but if we are connected the disobedience or covenant breaking of one pastor effects all others and all congregations with in our denomination. I therefore find the entire premise of the article flawed.

I do know persons who are homosexual have had them in my congregations have refused some from them request and met others (as I have will all those in my congregations).

On a regular basis we as pastor's must make decisions about what request to grant and which to deny the reasons very some are about the use of our time, and others about the appropriateness of the rites of the church for a given situation. That's pastoral judgment.

We can indeed express our feelings about some issues with our church, our conference and our bishop or bishop's of other conferences. Each time we do so, even as we are doing in this conversation, we open ourselves to judgment of our congregations and our colleagues and our DS's and Bishop's. We disclose our views on these topics which will effect our ministries in the future.

When we entered into Ordained Ministry we were examined and we were called to examine our Book of Discipline, the rule's, the system of polity, the theology and we stood before the clergy of the conference and the lay delegates who represent all the congregations of the conference and said that we did indeed agree with all these parts of what makes us a covenant body called the United Methodist Church. Which included for me and for most of those actively serving the statement in the Social Principles and the BOD also contained the paragraph's concerning chargeable offences.

Petitions to change the BOD in regards to same-sex unions come to every General conference. If we as a denomination want to focus on other issues, we can accept the stance of the church which has been unwavering since 1969 and stop writing petitions that seek to seek to change it.

Burt Williams more than 8 years ago

Good article

Thank you, Morgan, for your thoughtfulness.

It's interesting that you mention having dialog "across the divide." Bishop Johnson invited both the Evangelical Connection and the Reconciling UMs here in Eastern PA to do just that three different time "last (Conference) year." The folks who showed up, by and large, were those on the Reconciling side -- so much so that at two of them I sat in small groups with on RUM-supportive folks.

It's almost impossible to "dialog" when one side refuses to come to the table.

Jay R. Newlin more than 8 years ago

Very well-written, especially the second to last paragraph

As a naval seaman I observed sailors and marines who were psychiatric patients and their differing situations depending upon which pyschiatrist was assigned as their doctor. Dr. R. was prepared to help those service members who wanted to be medically boarded out of the service, but not Dr. P. One shaggy-haired hippie who had been AWOL over a year from the Marine Corps was crying after he found out his case was assigned ro Dr. P. "He wants me to go back to being a Marine1' he moaned. I thought, wouldn't it be great if we could make sure those who want discharged get Dr. R. and those that don't get Dr. P.?

We could do that in the UMC. If folks want a pastor who affirms our LGBT brothers and sisters, send them to Rev. Q. If they want one mired in ignorance of human sexuality who shares their bigotry, send them to Rev. H.

George Nixon Shuler more than 8 years ago


"If folks want a pastor who affirms our LGBT brothers and sisters, send them to Rev. Q. If they want one mired in ignorance of human sexuality who shares their bigotry, send them to Rev. H."
Yeah, that's not a bigoted statement at all. Hello's the kettle calling.

Chris Gadlage more than 8 years ago

I understand you don't like my post

However, rather than just issue oblique crticism, how about you 'show your work'? Please explain how you arrived at the conclusion that you did. Thank you.

George Nixon Shuler more than 8 years ago

Fresh reflections

I appreciate some new perspectives brought to light in your post.

Amy L Gearhart more than 8 years ago

Impact On Congregations

You ask a great question in your post:

Was this act imposed on the pastor’s congregation in a way that wrecked community and destroyed discipleship or was it the result of a prayerful discernment journey that the community took together? -
Another Frank helps to answer that question. Frank Schafer from Pennsylvania. Please check the words from his own pen in the newsletter of the church he serves at and you will see the congregational crisis that his pastoral recklessness has caused.

Talbot Davis more than 8 years ago

i did check that site. looks like a dynamic church

can't find anything there that looks like a "congregational crisis."

i did learn that the charges were brought six years after the service was conducted and one month after the complaintant's mother was fired as the organist. turns out the complainant was an inactive member who does not live in the area.

six years and no one from the congregation makes a charge suggests to me the opposite of what you assert. the ceremony was done in a pastoral and not public way and the congregation was not derailed by it.

wahoo lon more than 8 years ago

Impact On Congregations Part 2

These words are from Zion Iona's September newsletter, since deleted from the web site:

“As you are certainly well aware, our church has gone through some tumultuous times in recent months. We have lost dear church family members and have experienced a period of decline.”

Talbot Davis more than 8 years ago