Since the 1968 merger*, our United Methodist Church has wrestled with the issue of homosexuality. Our current Book of Discipline (our United Methodist “rule book”) emphasizes inclusiveness:
“The United Methodist Church acknowledges that all persons are of sacred worth. All persons without regard to race, color, national origin, status, or economic condition, shall be eligible to attend its worship services, participate in its programs, receive the sacraments, upon baptism be admitted as baptized members, and upon taking vows declaring the Christian faith, become professing members in any local church in the connection.”
In short, as described above, we welcome anyone to become a member of Mt. Zion United Methodist Church. Period.
However, the Book of Discipline also states that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching, and therefore forbids self-avowed, practicing homosexuals from being ordained as ministers; it also prohibits our ministers from officiating same-sex marriages, and forbids same-sex weddings in our churches. This has led to a vast disagreement within our denomination.
In 2016 our General Conference and Council of Bishops formed a Commission on a Way Forward in order to address this issue. In 2018 the Commission issued a report that included 3 possible plans for moving forward. There will be a special called General Conference from Feb. 23-26 in St. Louis, dedicated to dealing with the Commission’s report. [Note: This is a gross oversimplification.]
I join our bishops in asking all of our members and friends to pray daily from 2:23 – 2:26 PM for God’s guidance and direction at the General Conference, and for all of the 864 delegates who come from United Methodist churches around the world.
*In 1968 the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church merged to form the United Methodist Church.