Homosexuality

Image via RNS/Reuters/Toby Melville

May grew up in southeast England, the daughter of a Church of England vicar at a time when much of the nation was, by default, Anglican. In the 1950s and ’60s, the majority of people were married, baptized, and had their funerals in the Church of England, the established church. It was also a time when, despite the nation’s Christianity, few spoke about their faith, or about that of politicians.

Image via UMNS/Mike DuBose

The United Methodist Church will hold a special session of its General Conference to settle questions of LGBTQ inclusion that have vexed the global denomination for years.

The announcement came on April 25, the same day the denomination’s highest court held a hearing on whether an openly gay pastor can serve as bishop.

The General Conference, the United Methodist Church’s top legislative body, typically meets every four years. At last year’s meeting in Portland, Ore., it voted to defer all decisions about human sexuality to a specially appointed commission and left the door open for a special session.

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John, a 64-year-old theologian and dean of St. Albans Cathedral, has made no secret of his own homosexuality, and is in a civil partnership with another priest, a relationship he says is celibate. He has also made clear his support for same-sex marriage.

That has made John the subject of hard-liners’ ire. Supporters say his honesty about his homosexuality, and his views about same-sex marriage, have cost him the bishop’s seat, while some other bishops are known to be “quietly gay.”

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In January 2016, the Rev. Cynthia Meyer told her United Methodist Church congregation she felt “called by God to be open and honest” about who she is: “a woman who loves, and shares her life with, another woman.”

Image via RNS/Reuters/Molly Riley

The backlash to gospel singer Kim Burrell’s homophobic rant was swift: canceled national television appearances and the termination of her local public radio show.

But to those of us in religious communities, it’s important to note that, even as the controversy over Burrell’s statement recedes from the national spotlight, the issue of what goes on in the vast majority of American churches remains a festering wound.

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Calvary Baptist Church, a progressive Baptist landmark in the heart of downtown Washington, has named a gay couple as co-pastors.

Sally Sarratt and Maria Swearingen were presented to the congregation during worship services on Jan. 8 and will begin their new jobs on Feb. 26.

Da'Shawn Mosley 12-01-2016

It’s safe to say that no Christian community I've been a part of has ever brought up the U.S. domestic crisis of HIV/AIDS. In fact, I can’t recall ever hearing an American Christian even utter the words. 

And in conversation with others, I know that too many have only heard about it from pastors who preach that homosexuality is an unforgiveable sin and that HIV/AIDS is God’s wrath at work — despite the fact that HIV/AIDS affects people of many ethnicities and sexual orientations, and that the infection is often transmitted in ways other than sexual intercourse. Hearing Christians speak seriously and nonjudgmentally about HIV/AIDS, with the intent of acting to help eradicate the illness and protect the lives of those whom the illness has affected, is too rare.

Image via RNS/Reuters/Osservatore Romano

Even by this pope’s standards it was a bold move.

Francis, the spiritual leader of more than a billion Roman Catholics across the globe, this week traveled to Sweden, one of the most secularized countries in Europe, to take part in events marking 500 years since Martin Luther kickstarted the Protestant Reformation.

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Amazigh was one of 125 queer Muslim activists and allies who came together for The Inner Circle’s seven-day Annual International Retreat, from Oct. 14 to Oct. 21, in South Africa. The gathering focused on “building a movement towards an all-inclusive and compassion-centered Islam,” a mammoth task for attendees like Amazigh who live in countries where homosexuality and transgender expression are often taboo and criminalized.

Image via RNS/Patrick Scriven/United Methodist Church PNW Conference

Undoing the election of the first openly lesbian bishop in the United Methodist Church will be a primary goal when 1,500 Methodist evangelicals gather this week in Chicago to found a new renewal group, according to organizers.

At the inaugural meeting of the Wesleyan Covenant Association on Oct. 7, charter members will outline their expectations for a soon-to-be-appointed denominational commission to discuss the conflict over sexuality.

Image via REUTERS/Tiziana Fabi/Pool/RNS

While Francis’ comments on the plane were not officially sanctioned by the Catholic Church, they are another indication that the new boss ain’t the same as the old boss.

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As one of a tiny number of openly gay imams in the world, Daayiee Abdullah has felt the sting of rebuke from fellow Muslims. No good Muslim can be gay, they say. And traditional schools of Islamic law consider homosexuality a grave sin.

But Abdullah, a Washington, D.C. lawyer who studied Islam in the Middle East, says that mainstream Islamic teaching on gays must change.

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An Anglican priest has joined two gay men and two lesbians in a suit against the state over discriminatory laws that they see as encroaching on the rights and freedoms of sexual minorities in the East African country.

The Rev. Mark Odhiambo and the other plaintiffs charge that gays and lesbians in Kenya are routinely attacked, raped, evicted from their homes, and arbitrarily arrested. Odhiambo is a curate, or assistant to the parish priest, in Maseno South, a diocese on the shores of Lake Victoria.

Image via REUTERS/Russell Cheyne/RNS

The Scottish Episcopal Church may become the first major church in the United Kingdom to allow its clergy to conduct same-sex weddings in churches.

The General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church, meeting in the Scottish capital, Edinburgh, passed on first reading a change to its canon law definition of marriage June 10.

Rich Preheim 6-09-2016

The Rev. Isaac Villegas officiates at a wedding. Image via Dan Scheirer / RNS

A year ago, the Mennonite Church USA was one of many Christian groups struggling with dissension over the place of gays and lesbians in the church. Today, it’s not just struggling, but falling apart.

The divisions reached the highest level of leadership after a member of the denomination’s Executive Board resigned last month after officiating at the wedding of two lesbians, a violation of church rules.

Image via Mike DuBose / UMNS / RNS

While many evangelical church bodies have reiterated their “no” to homosexuality — and most mainline Protestant traditions have said “yes” — the United Methodist Church, which concluded its quadrennial meeting last week, remains as divided and muddled as ever.

Image via Mike DuBose / UMNS / RNS

The Rev. Jerry Kulah has nothing but gratitude for the United Methodist Church.

In 1833, American Methodists sent their first missionary to his country, Liberia, which was founded for freed American slaves. Melville B. Cox died four months after he arrived in Africa, but the missionary’s legacy lives on in the United Methodist Church’s fastest-growing region, and in his words to his own church back in North Carolina: “Let a thousand fall before Africa be given up.”

Monsignor Tony Anatrella. Image via Peter Potrowl / Wikimedia Commons / RNS

For years, seminaries and monasteries around France sent students and novices to Monsignor Tony Anatrella, a prominent French priest and therapist who has written disparagingly of gays, if their superiors decided the young men were struggling with homosexuality.

The United Methodist Church is struggling to maintain unity amid deep divisions over Scripture and sexuality, the presiding bishop of America’s second-largest Protestant denomination acknowledged.

Image via Rosie Scammell / RNS

The morning prayer that starts each session of a major gathering of Catholic churchmen underway here is an important chance for the 270 cardinals and bishops from around the world to set a meditative tone for what are contentious debates about church teachings on sexuality and family life.

With Pope Francis leading the way, the prelates seated in a large Vatican lecture hall chant the traditional Latin prayers pausing near the end for a brief reflection on the day’s Scripture by one of the bishops at the meeting, known as a synod.

Yet even that moment of spiritual peace is not always a sanctuary from the tensions roiling the three-week meeting that ends Oct. 25.

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