Methodists vote to uphold Biblical sexuality
The United Methodist Church on Tuesday voted at its international conference in St. Louis, Mo., to apply its standards on Biblical marriage and sexuality more consistently throughout the denomination. The proposal, called the “Traditional Plan,” calls for better enforcement of existing church rules barring Methodist ministers from officiating same-sex weddings or being openly homosexual. In a separate motion the same day, the General Conference rejected a proposal that would have removed language from the United Methodist Book of Discipline saying that same-sex marriage is incompatible with Christianity and left decisions about marriage and ordination up to regional and local churches. The so-called “One Church Plan” had been a bid to avoid a denominational split.
Forty-three percent of the delegates attending the General Conference were from outside the United States, mostly from Africa, and they overwhelmingly upheld a traditional stance on marriage and sexuality. “We Africans are not children in need of Western enlightenment when it comes to the church’s sexual ethics,” the Rev. Jerry Kulah, dean at a Methodist theology school in Liberia, said in a speech over the weekend. “We stand with the global church, not a culturally liberal church elite in the U.S.”
The United Methodist Church, which has more than 12 million members worldwide and nearly 7 million in the United States, making it the second-largest denomination in the country, likely faces a fracture after the decision and will take up the question of how to handle liberal congregations that choose to leave at a later date.
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