150 ‘queer’ UMC clergy demand LGBT ordination
On Monday morning, the United Methodist Queer Clergy Caucus (UMQCC) issued a letter to the UMC that presses the denomination to be more inclusive of LGBT members inside the church.
The push for more LGBT-friendly policies within the church is geared to influence an upcoming decision over a controversial and divisive debate.
“The letter is partly in response to the upcoming trial of openly gay Bishop Karen Oliveto before the denomination’s highest court, the United Methodist Judicial Council,” The Christian Post (CP) reported.
With the fairly recent United States Supreme Court Decision legalizing same-sex “marriage” nationwide, LGBT activists within the UMC are now attempting to make the ordination issue a civil rights matter in the name of tolerance and inclusion.
“Next week, the Judicial Council will determine whether Oliveto should no longer be bishop of the Mountain Sky Area region due to being in a same-sex marriage,” CP’s Michael Gryboski announced.
In the joint statement to the church, the LGBT members made clear their demand for the leadership and congregation to be forced to accept homosexuality and betray their deeply held Christian beliefs on human sexuality.
“While these questions, briefs and complaints are filed against some LGBTQI individuals, we consider them to be against all of us,” the open Easter letter expressed, which is posted on the UMQCC website. “These actions can also be considered as a general attack on the evangelism, discipleship and mission potential of the United Methodist movement.”
The homosexual activists within the church are adamant in the letter that they expect everyone within the Methodist Church to fully embrace the LGBT lifestyle of congregants and leadership alike.
“We stand in support of every clergy person threatened by unjust actions, and our sibling, Bishop Karen Oliveto, as her standing is being challenged before the Judicial Council,” the UMQCC continued in its letter. “Bishop Oliveto’s election is a visible demonstration of what is possible within The United Methodist Church when the gifts, graces, and call to ministry of LGBTQI persons are recognized and fully valued.”
One of the ordained signatories of the letter insists that any denial of LGBT inclusion within the UMC will be viewed as discrimination and intolerance.
“We have issued this open letter because LGBTQI clergy voices need to be taken into account as the Judicial Council decides on the worthiness and the future of our ministries,” Rev. Alex da Silva Souto told CP. “Their decisions will affect not only LGBTQ people across our denomination, but also our family members and supporters. This decision can either bring us forward or send us back as a denomination.”
Undermining the church?
The UMQCC letter is regarded as “extremely unprincipled on several levels” by one conservative Christian leader.
“There is absolutely zero integrity in the way some people have self-servingly lied about supporting our denomination’s values so that they could get ordained with us and then get paid with United Methodist money while working to undermine our Church from within,” the Institute on Religion & Democracy‘s John Lomperis told CP. “If a United Methodist clergyperson is same-sex-attracted and refuses to practice biblical sexual self-control, then the principled, brave and honest thing to do – short of repenting or quickly resigning – would be for them to drop the lies, the word games and the Pharisaical search for legal technicalities to instead be very explicit about their violations of our moral standards and then actually have the courage and conviction to face whatever consequences this may mean for them.”
He is doubtful that the letter will have any sway on the LGBT case currently under debate.
“Judicial Council is not a political body, but is charged with ruling narrowly based on what the meaning of Church law is – not on what anyone might like it to be,” Lomperis continued. “To the extent that Judicial Council members pay attention to such protests and publicity stunts, these tactics may actually backfire, by making clear to the Judicial Council that we do have a large enough problem that they really need to deal with the issues in these cases next week.”
Recurring issue …
Last year, the UMC’s position against homosexuality and same-sex marriage was challenged and brought to light at the 2016 UMC General Conference in Portland, Oregon, where a resolution was approved to create a commission that would review LGBT issues within the church.
Escalating the issue last spring, a similar protest was waged against biblical principles on sexuality in the UMC, when 111 pastors, deacons, elders and ministry candidates stated in a public letter they posted online a day before the conference – announcing that they would no longer abide by the church’s ban on “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” serving in ministry. In the letter, they boldly informed their superiors that they would no longer submit to the church’s moral standards on sexuality – at the risk of being disciplined.
“[UMC rules require] that we not bring our full selves to ministry – that we hide from view our sexual orientations and gender identities,” the letter stated, according to CNN. “While some of us have been lucky to serve in places where we could serve honestly and openly, there are others in places far more hostile, who continue to serve faithfully even at tremendous cost to themselves, their families, and yes, even the communities they serve, who do not receive the fullness of their pastor’s gifts because a core part must remain hidden.”
The letter was strategically planned to be released before the denomination’s first major meeting following the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision to legalize same-sex marriage. In an attempt to ride the nation’s wave of claiming so-called LGBT “rights,” activists seized the opportunity to stage a mass movement within the church of coming out of the closet.
“A spokesman for Reconciling Ministries Network – an LGBT advocacy group that organized the letter – said that about 80 percent of the 111 signatories are coming out to their supervisors for the first time,” CNN announced last May. “In addition to gay and lesbian clergy, the letter was also signed by intersex and transgender pastors, who are not technically excluded from ministry.”