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.
In her sermon on the last Sunday of Black History Month, the Rev. Maria Swearingen preached about her belief that black lives, “queer lives,” and immigrant lives matter.
And since it also was Transfiguration Sunday, she pointed to the story in the Gospel of Matthew where God declared Jesus “beloved.” That is a term, she said, that can be used for everyone.
“Pope Francis has a lot of explaining to do by approving the newest Vatican instruction,” said Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, which campaigns for LGBT rights in the church.
“Francis’ famous ‘Who am I to judge?’ statement in 2013 was made in response to a question about gay men in the priesthood,” DeBernardo said. “That response indicated very plainly that he did not have a problem with a gay priest’s sexual orientation.
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.
Tara “T.C.” Morrow did not receive the two-thirds vote needed for approval, reported the UMConnection, the conference’s newspaper. The conference’s Board of Ordained Ministry had recommended that Morrow be commissioned as a provisional deacon. Deacons in the United Methodist Church are ordained clergy.
By her own count, Bishop Yvette Flunder has officiated at 149 funerals for victims of AIDS and HIV. Her office in Oakland, Calif., contains the ashes from some of those funerals after family members refused to claim them.
In recent weeks, she’s been celebrated and castigated for being an African-American bishop who’s legally married to another woman.
But when the time came for her to speak at a small Baptist college in this Bible Belt city, she chose to forgive the black clergymen who called her appearance a “travesty of the highest order.”
“I’m not using my energy for useless fights,” the third-generation preacher said at the end of a rousing sermon on March 17.
“I’m using my energy to find peace. Let there be peace on earth.”
Four years ago, when musician Jennifer Knapp declared to the world that she was a lesbian, some of the conservative Christians who had purchased 1 million of her albums expressed outrage and disappointment.
At the time, Knapp had already been on a seven-year professional hiatus and declared she was not interested in being a poster girl for the gay Christian community. Neither did she feel equipped.
“I’m in no way capable of leading a charge for some kind of activist movement,” Knapp told Christianity Today in 2010.
But her sense of readiness has apparently changed. Simon & Schuster is preparing to release a book by Knapp in October titled “Facing the Music: Discovering Real Life, Real Love, and Real Faith.”
We may not all be rich. We don’t all have successful careers. We aren’t all healthy. But the one thing we all have are stories. From the beginning of time, we have thrived on connecting via stories. We consume stories for leisure, speak our stories for sanity, and create stories to capture our imagination.
We are swayed by stories. Stories can compel others in ways propositions and facts statements cannot. Our attention wanes at statistics and exegesis, but perks at vivid characters in an engaging plot. Stories have been proven to be an effective rhetorical device. They draw people’s attention in and leaves them satisfied upon conclusion.
You cannot debate a story. While it may be tempting to try and deconstruct the reasoning behind stories when it goes against your agenda, the genius of stories is that it can’t be used as an argument. The story of a chain smoker’s longevity sits uncomfortably in the presence of someone advocating the ills of nicotine. The story just is. We cannot alter it, the only thing we can control is how we choose to respond to it. Any attempts to dishonor or discredit someone’s story is an assault to their humanity.
On Sunday, a Denver congregation of Mennonites licensed the first lesbian in a committed same-sex relationship, the first step toward ordination.
Theda Good’s licensure was celebrated by some Mennonite Church USA clergy and greeted with dismay by others.
Good was licensed for ministry as pastor of nurture and fellowship at First Mennonite Church of Denver, where she is currently on the staff. Originally from Lancaster, Pa., Good is a graduate of Eastern Mennonite Seminary in Harrisonburg, Va.
As a law extending workplace protection to gay, bisexual, and transgender workers makes its way through the Senate this week, there’s a shift in the political air: Arguments that stand purely on religious grounds are no longer holding the same degree of political sway they once did.
The rhetoric from Republican and conservative opponents of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is moving away from the morality of the bedroom and into the business sphere. More politicians are fighting ENDA as a bad economic move, not as a break with the Bible.
ENDA would “increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs,” Speaker John A. Boehner said in a statement released Monday, which made clear the Senate bill is dead on arrival in the GOP-controlled House.
American Jews say they face discrimination in the U.S., but they see Muslims, gays, and blacks facing far more.
This and other findings from the recently released Pew Research Center’s landmark study on Jewish Americans help make the case that Jews — once unwelcome in many a neighborhood, universitym, and golf club — now find themselves an accepted minority.
“While there are still issues, American Jews live in a country where they feel they are full citizens,” said Kenneth Jacobson, deputy national director of the Anti-Defamation League, which was founded in 1913 to combat anti-Semitism.
In an emotional ceremony Monday (Feb. 13), Gov. Chris Gregoire signed legislation that makes Washington the seventh state to legalize gay marriage.
"Today is a day that historians will mark as a milestone for equal rights," she said to a hailing crowd at the state Capitol in Olympia.
The House passed the bill with a 55-43 vote on Feb. 8, one week after the Senate approved it. The gay marriage law is slated to take effect June 7.
Failure to provide equal rights for LGBT people doesn’t just hurt those who are gay or lesbian, it also hurts the nearly 2 million children who now live in LGBT households.
Contrary to many stereotypes, children living in LGBT households are 50 percent more likely to live in poverty than those living in heterosexual households. Societal prejudice and discriminatory policies both have something to do with it. A recent report sponsored by the Movement Advancement Project, Family Equality Council and the Center for American Progress, explains why.