United Methodist Church still struggling for LGBTQ inclusion

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United Methodist Church still struggling for LGBTQ inclusion

to be celibate.

Also, the One Church Plan would uphold the religious freedom and thereby safeguard those clerics and conferences unwilling to ordain or marry us because of their theological convictions. (This is an ongoing contentious battle among religious conservatives that many LGBTQs contests codify discrimination against us. The “Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission," is one such case. In fall 2018, The Supreme Court will argue the parameters of one’s right to practice their religion and their right to express themselves freely that’s enshrined in the First Amendment.)

At General Conference in 2016 in Portland the struggle to move the church’s moral compass against its anti-LGBTQ policies was courageously demonstrated when over 100 United Methodist Church(UMC) ministers and faith leaders came out to their churches - with then Rev. Jay Williams of Union United Methodist Church in Boston’s South End as one of them.

The UMC’s history of struggle on this issue clearly illustrates the defiant will for LGBTQ inclusion.

For example, in 2013, the Reverend Frank Schaefer, pastor at Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in Pennsylvania, was forced to stand trial for officiating his son’s 2007 same-sex nuptials.

“I love him so much and didn't want to deny him that joy. I had to follow my heart,” Schaefer told the New York Daily News.

The Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the Methodist Church, however, wanted to drill home to Schaefer and his allies that he — irrespective of familial love or Christian belief — blatantly and willfully violated the church’s law book, the Book of Discipline, prohibiting same-sex marriages.

Since June 2011 more than 100 Methodist ministers in New England have pledged to marry LGBTQ couples in defiance of the denomination’s ban on same-sex unions. Approximately one out of nine Methodist clerics signed a statement pledging to open their churches to LGBTQ couples that stated, “We repent that it has taken us so long to act… We realize that our church’s discriminatory policies tarnish the witness of the church to the world, and we are [complicit].’’

Knowing where Methodist clerics in New England stand on same-sex marriages, Schaefer officiated his son’s nuptials here in Massachusetts.

While it is clear that the UMC is not in lockstep with the changing societal tide toward LGBTQ acceptance, it is also not in lockstep with its own more progressive arm of "reconciling and inclusive" congregations. Union United Methodist Church (UUMC), a predominately African American congregation located in Boston’s South End — once the epicenter of the city's LGBTQ community — is one of them. And it is the one institution least expected to be lauded among LGBTQ people of African descent because of the Black Church's notorious history of homophobia. But UUMC is a movement, and when its pastor came out, it was an example of full inclusion as a welcoming church body.

I hope the One Church Plan be the solution to a roiling church body. In 2018 to still be fighting for LGBTQ full inclusion puts the UMC in question rather than its LGBTQ parishioners.