Are United Methodists Afraid to Act? | Featured Columnist
As one of the founders of the United Methodist Centrist Movement, Reverend Doug Damron has spent years hiding his rejection of his church’s rule that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.”
The centrists used a “perfectly delicious” theological platform defined by words such as “unity”, “peace” and “moderate,” he said, in a recent guest sermon at the Methodist church. historic Broad Street United in Columbus, Ohio. After decades of fighting over sex, many hoped that “traditionalists” and “progressives” could keep “United” attached to “Methodist.”
The goal was a “compromise,” said Damron, a “soft word” that hid an “oppressive status quo.” But there was “an institution to protect,” and many members of the clergy feared being honest. So they didn’t openly attack the denominational Book of Discipline.
Now it’s time for frankness and courage, said Damron. When the United Methodists finally parted ways, the Conservatives will build a church defined “by whom they will exclude today and who will exclude tomorrow.” The question is whether progressives will act on their convictions.
“It is time to create, as the Spirit leads, a church that fully welcomes, includes, affirms not only God’s beloved gays and lesbians, but a host of others who have found the door to the Church. ‘church closed,’ he said. noted. This would include embracing and ordering “trans people, bi people, kink people, poly people, gender fluent people and the like.”
The United Methodist clock continued to run this summer, even as the realities of COVID-19 delayed – yet again – votes on the “Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace through Separation” negotiated by left-wing activists and of right. The General Conference will not meet until August 2022, as the UMC establishment has refused to take action in the virtual forums.
Once the protocol is approved, the Tories plan to create the World Methodist Church, merging their vast minority among UMC’s 31,000 American congregations into a structure built around the burgeoning churches in Africa and Asia. This new denomination will retain the teachings of the Book of Discipline on marriage and sex.
Meanwhile, in social media, podcasts, and Zoom lectures, voices from the doctrinal left have said it is time to move beyond debates about engaged same-sex relationships. Some say it’s time to affirm those, including sexually active clergy candidates, cohabiting in heterosexual or same-sex relationships.
Earlier this summer, the heads of Love Prevails – a liberal network – announced their exit from UMC in a letter stating: We mistakenly assumed UMC would welcome queer people, if only for institutional preservation. . We didn’t realize that the church would rather destroy itself than become fully inclusive. “
The truth is, many members of the clergy are still afraid to be honest, said Reverend Austin Adkinson of the Pacific Northwest Conference, a leader of the UMC Queer Clergy Caucus. In a still-quoted ‘Multiamory’ podcast from 2018, Adkinson said, “I’m trying to find ways that I can say, without pulling the rug under some people, that it really doesn’t matter who’s laying you down. with, but how you take care of these people.