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40-year ban on gay clergy struck down

Posted: May 1 2024 at 04:49 PM
Author: Heather Hahn, United Methodist News Service

Without debate, General Conference removed the UMC’s ban on the ordination of clergy who are “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” —a prohibition that dates to 1984.

General Conference delegates during the morning plenary approved the change alongside 22 pieces of legislation on the consent calendar, which allows delegates to pass multiple petitions in bulk if they have overwhelming support in legislative committee and have no budgetary or constitutional impact.

The vote on the consent calendar was 692-51, with approval at 93 percent.

Delegates and observers applauded after the vote. 

Brian With Others Celebrating Outsidesm

Rev. Brian Gilbert (center, wearing cap) celebrates with others the General Conference's eliminating the prohibition on ordaining LGBTQ people.

Also on the consent calendar, delegates voted that superintendents are not to penalize clergy or churches for holding--or refraining from holding--same-sex weddings.

Another change approved exhorts the Council of Bishops to be inclusive of gender, race, ethnicity, age, people with disabilities, sexual orientation and economic condition in naming representatives to ecumenical organizations .

The legislation approved on this morning’s consent calendar continues the trend of this General Conference, which is quietly reversing some of The United Methodist Church’s longtime restrictions against LGBTQ members.

On the April 30 consent calendar, General Conference removed a number of constraints on ministry with and by gay people. One of the key changes was eliminating a ban on using United Methodist funds to “promote acceptance of homosexuality.”

In 2016, General Conference delegates referred to that ban in not supporting the funding of suicide prevention efforts for LGBTQ youth.

It should be noted that nothing passed by General Conference or under consideration would compel churches to receive a gay pastor. The legislation approved this morning also explicitly protects the right of clergy and churches not to officiate at or host same-sex weddings.

More potential changes are to come — possibly later today.

During break, delegates and observers formed a circle of easily 200 to 300, clapping and singing such hymns as "Child of God" and "Draw the Circle Wide."

Many hugged and more than a few cried, in a mass release of joy for those who had pushed, some for decades, to make The United Methodist Church fully inclusive.

Read the  complete story here

Watch immediate reactions from Northern Illinois United Methodists on site

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