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The United Methodist Church is in the need of prayer. And, one that emphasizes full inclusion of all its parishioners.
At General Conference this month 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 Rev. Jay Williams of Union United Methodist Church in Boston’s South End as one of them.
While these ministers and faith leaders undoubtedly moved the hearts of many the church’s policies remain unmoved.
In 2016 to still be fighting for LGBTQ full inclusion puts the church in question rather than its LGBTQ parishioners.
And 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.
Sadly, little has changed in the UMC on this issue since the well-publicized trial of Reverend Jimmy Creech in Nebraska. In 1998 the Judicial Council of the United Methodist Church ruled that Creech, a heterosexual ally, violated church law by blessing the union of two lesbians. Following the Judicial Council’s ruling, Creech’s contract as pastor of the First United Methodist Church in Omaha was terminated. The following year, Creech was in the hot seat again for blessing the Holy Union of two gay men.
For these acts of ecclesiastical disobedience, that the jury felt was of biblical proportions, Creech was defrocked and lost his ministerial credentials. However many conservative United Methodist clerics felt Creech got off easy and believed that a harsher decision, banishment from the church, should have been rendered.
When asked by The Advocate that year why he continued to marry same-sex couples while knowing the church’s position, Creech rightly stated the following: “A cultural prejudice... has been institutionalized in the church. The position of the church is wrong, it’s unjust. It’s discriminatory. It