Methodist clergy come out as ‘gay’ in defiance of church ban

By Cheryl Chumley

Dozens of United Methodist church leaders came out as gay.
Dozens of United Methodist church leaders came out as “gay.”

Dozens of homosexual and lesbian clergy members – 111 of them, to be exact – signed on to a letter that protests the United Methodist’s ban on LGBTs serving in ministry positions, daring their church leaders to discipline them.

“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 “Love Letter To Our Church From Your LGBTQI Religious Leaders” states, in part.

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It comes just a day before the United Methodist Church, which is the largest Protestant denomination in the country, is due to kick off its General Conference in Portland, Oregon, running this year from May 10 through May 20.

There, 800-plus delegates will discuss church policies – and whether to overturn a long-standing ban against LGBTs serving as ministers and another barring same-sex marriages from being performed by Methodist leaders. Specifically, the United Methodists’ Book of Discipline states all people have “sacred worth” but “the practice of homosexuality” is “incompatible with Christian teaching,” CNN said.

Rev. Laura Young, a lesbian pastor from Ohio, age 48 and the mother of two, said she’s happy she signed the letter.

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“I feel lighter already,” she told CNN. “I can be a better pastor and a better person when I can be my full self, living in the light and with integrity.”

The letter also makes clear the signers have tried to be “faithful” to their religious calling, but that the church has turned its back on them.

“While we have sought to remain faithful to our call and covenant, you have not always remained faithful to us,” it stated. “While you have welcomed us as pastors, youth leaders, district superintendents, bishops, professors, missionaries and other forms of religious service, you have required that we not bring our full selves to ministry, that we hide from view our sexual orientations and gender identities. As long as we did this, you gladly affirmed our gifts and graces and used us to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world in the varied places you sent us.”

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It also gives several reasons for the “coming out” process, while expressing desire to continue church service.

“Foremost,” the letter said, “we want you to know we still love you and seek to remain in relationship with you. … You cannot legislate against God’s call. The ‘LGBTQI issue’ is not one that can be resolved through restrictive legislation but instead by seeing that all persons are made in the image of God and welcomed into the community of faith. We come out, too, to provide hope for LGBTQI young people in hostile UMC churches. … We come out to invite them to listen for God’s still, small voice.”

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