Joy as United Methodist Church Votes to Allow Gay Clergy


A Pride flag flying outside a United Methodist Church in Seattle, Washington (Photo: Joe Mabel)

In a significant development, the US-based United Methodist Church (UMC) will finally allow gay clergy to serve in the church, overturning a 40-year ban.

On Wednesday, 93% of the delegates at the General Conference of the UMC in Charlotte, North Carolina, voted without debate to end the 1984 ban on “self-avowed practicing” gay clergy.

Individual churches will not be forced to accept gay clergy but are now free to do so.

Shift in Policy on Same-Sex Weddings

The delegates also voted not to penalise clergy and churches that choose to hold—or refrain from holding—same-sex weddings.

“With the approvals and acceptance of the things today by the General Conference, we’re beginning to see the unwinding, unraveling, dismantling of the heterosexism, the homophobia, the hurt and the harm of The United Methodist Church,” gay and married West Ohio retired elder, Rev. David Meredith, told UMC News.

The decisions were met with applause and joyful singing and celebration at the conference, with many delegates wearing rainbow colours.

Still Work to Do

“Today, we celebrate this historic vote,” said openly gay and married Mountain Sky Area Bishop Karen Oliveto.

“Tomorrow, we will continue to work together. To learn from one another. To stand with one another. To continue to widen the circle so that those on the margins of church and society can find a home.”

The Rev. H.N. Gibson, associate pastor of East Lake United Methodist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, told UMC News that “there’s still work to do because just because we change legislation doesn’t mean that we change hearts and minds. But I’m committed to that long-term work.”

The United Methodist Church is a worldwide mainline Protestant denomination based in the United States, with 9,984,925 members and 39,460 churches worldwide.

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