UMC says homosexuality does not conflict with Christianity;… | WORLD
Sound journalism, grounded in facts and Biblical truth | Donate

UMC says homosexuality does not conflict with Christianity; redefines marriage

Delegates celebrating outside after passing non-biblical changes to church code Associated Press/Photo by Peter Smith

UMC says homosexuality does not conflict with Christianity; redefines marriage

International delegates at the United Methodist Church’s General Conference voted on Thursday to remove a church code section declaring the practice of homosexuality as incompatible with Christian teaching. The group also voted to redefine marriage, simply describing the sacrament as a union between two people of faith rather than exclusively between a man and a woman. The assembly’s approval rate was more than 70 percent for both unbiblical votes.

Despite the strong support for the changes, dozens of delegates pushed back. Rev. Jerry Kulah of Liberia led other dissenting delegates in singing hymns and saying prayers outside the convention building. Kulah said the church does not know better than the Bible. Marriage is between a man and a woman, period, said Nigerian Bishop John Wesley Yohanna.

Were other pro-LGBTQ proposals approved during the meeting?

  • Delegates also voted on Wednesday to repeal a 40-year rule against ordaining people who are openly practicing homosexuals. The proposal passed with 93 percent approval.

  • Delegates also overturned a ban on the ministry involvement of people who identify as LGBTQ and repealed a rule against using church funds to support pro-LGBTQ causes.

  • Members approved a measure barring district church leaders from punishing clergy for performing same-sex marriages. The change also protects clergy from penalty if they choose not to perform a same-sex marriage.

  • District leaders are also prohibited from requiring or banning churches from hosting gay weddings.

Were any other notable changes passed?

  • Delegates approved petitions to restructure the international church last week by establishing four regional conferences: Africa, Europe, the Philippines, and the United States. The restructuring vote passed with 78 percent approval and will move to lower regional annual church conferences for final approval by the end of 2025.

  • Conference attendees also approved a full communion relationship with the Episcopal church, the latter of which still needs to approve the proposal.

The 2024 meeting marked the first UMC Convention since more than 7,000 congregations in the United States split from the denomination over disagreements about homosexuality in the church.

Dig deeper: Read Elizabeth Russell’s report in WORLD Magazine about theological disputes within the UMC.

Christina Grube

Christina Grube is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute.

An actual newsletter worth subscribing to instead of just a collection of links. —Adam

Sign up to receive The Sift email newsletter each weekday morning for the latest headlines from WORLD’s breaking news team.

Please wait while we load the latest comments...