Churches Continue Discussions on Scripture, Homosexuality

A recent consultation among United Methodist Church officials on the "authority of scripture and the nature of God’s revelation" acknowledged that the most divisive debates of the church hinge largely on one’s view of the nature and authority of the Bible. On the topic of homosexuality in particular, officials agreed that the work of the church is suffering from the huge amount of energy spent on the debate, prompting suggestions for creating a "safe space" for ministry and mission while continuing the vital dialogue.

This consultation occurred in the context of a Methodist jury’s decision to revoke the credentials of outspoken pastor Jimmy Creech for presiding over the ceremony of a same-sex union, the harshest penalty yet for such an act within that denomination.

At the same time, a commission of the Northeast Synod of the Presbyterian Church USA ruled in support of same-sex unions and approved the candidacy of gay and lesbian persons for ordination. The rulings focus on legal definitions, however, such as the difference between "marriage" and "union," and the recognition that although non-celibate gays and lesbians still cannot become clergy in the PCUSA, this does not prevent them from being "inquirers" who may later meet the requirements of ordination.

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