Clergy offer support to LGBQT pastors despite GC2016 action

More than 1500 United Methodist clergy have signed a letter stating they would refuse to fill the pulpit of a LGBTQ pastor who was removed for “God’s given sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Marching around the Oregon Convention Center, a group of LGBTQ supporters, sang and shouted, “Tear the Walls Down Now” in reference to the Bible story of Jericho, and asked an openly gay pastor to be a bishop candidate.

Reconciling Ministries Network announced the letter supporting LGBTQ clergy in a press conference. The Love Your Neighbor Coalition organized the march. Supporters of full inclusion in the church are vocal and visible as the 2016 United Methodist General Conference enters the second week of the international meeting in Portland.

The lawmaking body of the denomination will set church law and policy before the conference ends on May 20. More than 100 pieces of legislation relate to full inclusion of LGBTQ people. LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning. Some advocacy groups add I for intersex.

The Rev. Ginger Gaines-Cirelli, pastor of Foundry United Methodists Church in Washington; the Rev. Gil Caldwell, retired; and the Rev. Frank Schaefer, pastor of University United Methodist Church in Isla Vista, California, wrote the letter now circulating across the denomination.

“We, the undersigned clergy of The United Methodist Church, believe it is time – time for us to end the practice of requiring LGBTQI clergy and clergy candidates to hide their most authentic selves. Thus, we call upon General Conference to remove the prohibitions against openly LGBTQI persons being ordained and serving as clergy in our churches,” the letter states.

“One’s God-given sexual orientation or gender identity neither qualif(ies) nor disqualif(ies) a person for ordained ministry,” Gaines-Cirelli said.

Since Monday, May 9, more than 120 LGBTQ clergy and candidates have come out as gay and in a letter addressed to The United Methodist Church.

Last week, the Rev. David Meredith married Jim Schlachter, his boyfriend of 28 years.

Joey Lopez, a member of the Love Your Neighbor Coalition, introduced Meredith at the march. Then he said, “I have been having a conversation since August. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had an outed gay bishop?”

The crowd roared approval.

Meredith, pastor of Clifton United Methodist Church in Cincinnati, explained why he is willing to answer the call.

“One of the responsibilities of United Methodist clergy is to be available to the call of God for episcopacy. So when people here asked me to be available, I felt the urging of the Spirit and the power of God to say ‘yes.’

“Love will make us better instead of exclusion that makes us worse.”

Gilbert is a multimedia news reporter for United Methodist News Service. Contact her at (615) 742-5470 or [email protected].


Like what you're reading? Support the ministry of UM News! Your support ensures the latest denominational news, dynamic stories and informative articles will continue to connect our global community. Make a tax-deductible donation at ResourceUMC.org/GiveUMCom.

Sign up for our newsletter!

UMNEWS-SUBSCRIPTION
General Church
A diverse group of bishops and other United Methodist leaders gather for a group photo in 2019 after reaching agreement on a proposal that would maintain The United Methodist Church but allow traditionalist congregations to separate into a new denomination. More than a quarter of that team have now rescinded their support for the agreement in its entirety, saying it no longer offers an adequate path forward for The United Methodist Church. Photo courtesy of the Protocol Mediation Team.

Protocol’s day has passed, some negotiators say

Based on discussions with General Conference delegates and other United Methodists, five of the 16 leaders who negotiated a denominational separation agreement say they “can no longer, in good faith, support” the proposal.
General Church
The Rev. Dr. Rebekah Miles. Photo courtesy of the author.

Steps to take to avoid a GC2024 debacle

The Rev. Dr. Rebekah Miles and the Rev. David Livingston, both veteran General Conference delegates, explain what steps United Methodists can take now to avoid "the debacle of General Conference 2019."
Judicial Council
United Methodist bishops process into the opening worship service for the 2019 special General Conference in St. Louis. The Judicial Council, The United Methodist Church’s top court, released a memorandum that clarifies an earlier ruling on bishop elections. File photo by Mike DuBose, UM News.

Church court modifies ruling on bishop elections

The United Methodist Judicial Council has modified an earlier ruling to say that newly elected U.S. bishops will take office on Jan. 1, 2023.