Theologically progressive United Methodist Church clergy and activists have promised a “wide variety of resistance tactics” against the denomination’s official opposition to homosexuality and gay marriage.
Church of the Resurrection of Leawood, Kansas, the largest UMC congregation in the United States, hosted a gathering of about 600 pro-LGBT United Methodists called “UMC Next” this week.
At issue was the recent reaffirmation of the UMC Book of Discipline’s position that homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching” and barred same-sex marriages as well as the ordination of noncelibate homosexuals known as the “Traditional Plan.”
During a press conference held Wednesday on the final day of UMC Next, Ginger E. Gaines-Cirelli, senior pastor of Foundry United Methodist Church of Washington, D.C., told those gathered that there would be a “wide variety of resistance tactics” to the Church’s official position.
“For some of us, resisting the Traditional Plan means violating the Book of Discipline. For some persons in their context, it might not,” said Gaines-Cirelli.
“There will need to be a wide variety of resistance tactics all leaning into and seeking to help accomplish the commitments that we have made together here.”
Gaines-Cirelli added that “others will risk other kinds of things, but not for a variety of reasons be able or willing at this time to break the rules of the Plan, of the Discipline.”
Junius Dotson, general secretary of the UMC Discipleship Ministries, then commented that there are “many forms of resistance and people have to decide how they will participate.”
“What people should hear is that as this movement grows and as people are joining this movement, there are going to be different, varying levels of resistance depending on where people are,” Dotson said.
Mark Tooley, president of the theologically conservative Institute on Religion & Democracy and himself a United Methodist, told The Christian Post that he viewed the UMC Next event as evidence that pro-LGBT churches were planning to leave.
“This group has essentially formed the embryo of a new denomination and possibly more than one new denomination. They want a ‘new’ Methodism that is distinct from the current global church with its orthodox teaching, of which they are ‘ashamed,’” said Tooley.
“They are calling for resistance and political action within denomination while also acknowledging some will leave earlier than others to form their new entities.”
Tooley also told CP that he believed those at the press conference “tacitly admit they have lost at the general church level” and that the departure of liberal UMC members and churches “will unfold incrementally, depending on local context.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski