united methodist church

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The United Methodist Church’s top court has ruled that the consecration of an openly gay pastor as bishop is against church law.

But, in a somewhat muddled ruling that could reflect the ongoing struggle to determine how great a role LGBTQ members can play in the second largest Protestant denomination in the U.S., the court also ruled that the Rev. Karen Oliveto, its first openly gay bishop, “remains in good standing.”

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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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.”

John Gehring 1-09-2017

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Sessions has long been, in the words of one prominent immigration advocate, the “most anti-immigrant senator in the chamber.” When George W. Bush, a self-styled “compassionate conservative” and born-again Christian, pushed a comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2007 that was supported by many business and law-enforcement officials, Sessions railed against what he called the “no illegal alien left behind bill” and led the charge against the failed effort. “Good fences make good neighbors,” he said at a press conference the year before.

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First came the mayors of New York, Chicago, and Seattle declaring their cities “sanctuaries”, and saying they will protect undocumented immigrants from President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to deport them.

Then thousands of students, professors, alumni, and others at elite universities, including Harvard, Yale, and Brown, signed petitions, asking their schools to protect undocumented students from any executive order.

Now, religious congregations, including churches and synagogues, are declaring themselves “sanctuaries” for immigrants fleeing deportation.

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The Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis has elected the first black, female diocesan bishop in the history of the Episcopal Church.

The Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, director of networking in the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, was elected on the second ballot, during a diocesan convention held at Christ Church Cathedral Indianapolis on Oct. 28.

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Black faith leaders and social justice advocates are commemorating the lynching of Anthony Crawford, a man who owned 427 acres in Abbeville, S.C., when he was killed on Oct. 21, 1916.

He had been jailed after a dispute with a white store owner over the price of cottonseed. He was released, but was abducted by a large mob of white men and lynched, his body riddled with bullets.

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.

The Rev. Cynthia Meyer. Image via Emily McFarlan Miller / RNS

The Rev. Cynthia Meyer has been placed on an involuntary leave of absence after coming out as a lesbian earlier this year to her rural Kansas congregation.

The leave allows Meyer, a United Methodist minister, to avoid a church trial and comes after she met for more than 12 hours on Aug. 1 with those involved in a complaint against her, according to the denomination’s Great Plains Annual Conference.

Bishop Karen Oliveto. Image via Patrick Scriven / United Methodist Church PNW Conference / RNS

Bishop Karen Oliveto felt called to ministry in the United Methodist Church when she was 11 years old.

But for years Oliveto refused to allow her name to be cast for the role of bishop because she “didn’t want to harm the church,” she said.

Bishop Karen Oliveto. Image via Charmaine Robledo / UMC Mountain Sky Area / RNS

The head of the United Methodist Church’s Council of Bishops said the election of its first openly lesbian bishop last week “raises significant concerns and questions of church polity and unity.”

Bishop Bruce Ough, president of the Council of Bishops, said the executive committee of the bishops’ council “is monitoring this situation very closely.” The bishops are gathering July 19-20 in Chicago as part of the commission on sexuality called for by the General Conference.

Image via Emily McFarlan Miller / RNS

At its quadrennial meeting last month, the United Methodist Church decided not to take up contentious LGBT issues. But that’s not stopping its regional conferences from making decisions on their own.

Two U.S. jurisdictions will consider three openly gay candidates for bishop next month.

Tara "T.C." Morrow. Image via Steven D. Martin / RNS

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.

Layton E. Williams 5-24-2016

While I am a vocally liberal, bisexual justice-seeker and activist, my mom is an engaged and informed lifelong conservative who believes our denomination’s political engagement contradicts the separation of church and state. For this reason, I knew that the historic votes on marriage and several other progressive issues would not be good news for her. In fact, I knew that the senior pastor of her congregation — the church I had grown up in — would leave the denomination over those votes, and that my mom might well be leaving too. Across the vague static of our cell connection, I heard the emotion in her voice as she admitted, “I just feel like my church is leaving me behind.” I shook my head, thinking to myself, “But we don’t want to.” Church had always been a shared home for us, but I wondered if we would ever both feel home in the same church again.

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 Emily McFarlan Miller / RNS

The debate — over how to debate the rules — became so convoluted that at one point Missouri delegate Margie Briggs called for prayer and said:

“I believe we are confusing God at this point.”

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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.”

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Amid protest, song, and fears of a denominational breakup, United Methodists at their quadrennial General Conference decided yet again not to decide anything regarding LGBT rights.

But in a groundbreaking move, the delegates from the U.S. and abroad voted 428-405 on May 18 to allow the church’s Council of Bishops to appoint a commission to discuss whether to accept same-sex marriage or ordain LGBT clergy.

Bishop Elaine Stanovksy (left) receives Communion from activists Sue Laurie (right) and Julie Bruno. Image via Mike DuBose / UMNS / RNS

Delegates to the United Methodist Church General Conference shot down a strategy that would have allowed them to discuss contentious legislation in small groups.

Image via REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/RNS

On the eve of her religious denomination’s quadrennial meeting, Hillary Clinton wrote a letter to Jewish agency heads saying she opposes the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction movement targeting Israel, which the meeting will consider.

“I believe that BDS seeks to punish Israel and dictate how the Israelis and Palestinians should resolve the core issues of their conflict. This is not the path to peace,” Clinton wrote in a letter May 9 to David Sherman, chair of the Israel Action Network, and Susan K. Stern, vice chair of the Jewish Federations of North America.

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