Recently, United Methodist Church leaders decided to tighten restrictions on LGBT issues, such as deciding that regional Methodist churches are now not allowed to decide on whether or not they’re allowed to ordain LGBT people in relationships and to officiate same-sex weddings. However, the Allendale United Petersburg, Florida rejected this decision, according to The Tampa Bay Times.
Reverend Andy Oliver plans to hold a special service on Sunday in which he will invite “all of our community partners to come to grieve and celebrate together who we (United Methodist) are.” He also noted that denominations in the US have always defied LGBTQ policies and that will not change and that he has been officiating same-sex marriages. He said “The church calls us, when we see laws that are unjust, to dissent. So I have been practicing that at the risk of losing my orders.” I agree with Oliver, as I strongly believe that it’s important to hold on to your convictions strongly even if they go against what the majority is saying.
Additionally, Reverend Magrey deVaga at Hyde Park United Methodist in Tampa, commented that the decision is a “profound disappointment” to members of the church who were pushing for equality. And it is disappointing, considering the Methodist church, at least to my knowledge, has generally been one of the more accepting denominations.
Oliver said that at the end of the conference that determined the tightening of the restrictions, the entire Western region of the church proclaimed that they will ignore the Church’s discriminatory policies and also that the more conservative factions of the church that decided on the restrictions did so as an exit plan so that they can break off from the Methodist church and form their own denomination.
The decision is unequivocally harmful to LGBTQ people and rather inauspicious regarding equality, but since many local Methodist churches are ignoring the tightening of restrictions, I remain hopeful that they can progress further in regards to LGBT rights. By ignoring the orders of the church leaders, local churches are really sticking to their protestant roots.
h/t: The Tampa Bay Times