Delegates affirm stance against ordaining practicing homosexuals

Delegates to the United Methodist Church’s top legislative body continued the church prohibition of self-avowed practicing homosexuals being involved in ordained ministry.

Within the qualifications for ordaining ministers in the United Methodist Church is a statement that says, “Since the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching, self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be accepted as ministers or appointed” in the church.

The delegates to the 2004 General Conference removed the word “since” and made a declaratory statement on May 4 that says, “The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” After the word “teaching,” delegates added the word “therefore” and made a second sentence. The adopted language now reads: “The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore, self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be accepted as candidates, ordained as ministers or appointed to serve in the United Methodist Church.”

Following much debate, the delegates defeated a minority report that would have given each annual conference or central conference — regional units of the church — the responsibility of determining how it will approach homosexuality as it relates to a person’s fitness for ministry.

Speaking against the minority report was the Rev. Wiley Stephens, a delegate from the North Georgia Annual Conference. He said the report “strikes at our unity as a denomination” and urged the delegates to stay united as they move forward.

Another delegate, the Rev. Tim McClendon of South Carolina, expressed concern about the report because the polity of the denomination is connectional.

The delegates, in a vote of 674-262, reaffirmed the language in the United Methodist Book of Discipline regarding the character and commitment of those seeking ordination and affirmed the church’s standards.

*Green is a news writer for United Methodist News Service.

News media contact: (412) 325-6080 during General Conference, April 27-May 7.  After May 10: (615) 742-5470.


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
Mission and Ministry
Tim Tanton (center, in red), chief news and information officer for United Methodist Communications, shares updates with African communicators and other UMCom staff during the 2019 General Conference. World Press Freedom Day, observed May 3, commemorates journalists and highlights the difficulties they face while reporting truth. File photo by Kathleen Barry, UM News

May 3 is World Press Freedom Day

Tim Tanton with United Methodist News talks about giving voice to the voiceless and why freedom of information is essential not only for society but for the church.
Bishops
The Virginia Conference’s Bishop Sharma D. Lewis (upper right corner) leads the devotional during the April 30 session of the United Methodist Council of Bishops spring meeting. The bishops maintained that no elections of bishops or agency board members would be held this year, despite some delegates urging otherwise. Screengrab courtesy of the Council of Bishops via ZOOM by UM News.

Bishops: No episcopal elections until 2022

United Methodist bishops declined General Conference delegates’ calls for episcopal elections this year but opened the door to a vote on new leaders in 2022.
General Church
Delegates from the Philippines and Southeast Asia sing during the 2019 United Methodist General Conference in St. Louis. Nearly 300 Filipino United Methodists joined a virtual conversation March 16 to talk about the Christmas Covenant and other plans for the future of The United Methodist Church. More webinars are planned for church members in Africa and Europe. File photo by Mike DuBose, UM News.

Restructuring legislation gets a hearing

The drafters of the Christmas Covenant are leading webinars in the Philippines, Africa and Europe about their proposal for changing the denomination’s global structure.