Clergy Offer Support to LGBTQ Pastors

Rights activists march around the Oregon Convention Center, the site of the 2016 General Conference. The demonstrators were demanding that the church be more inclusive of LGBTQ people in its ministries. Photo by Paul Jeffrey, UMNS.

Rights activists march around the Oregon Convention Center, the site of the 2016 General Conference. The demonstrators were demanding that the church be more inclusive of LGBTQ people in its ministries. Photo by Paul Jeffrey, UMNS.

By Kathy L. Gilbert-

More than 1500 United Methodist clergy have signed a letter stating they would refuse to fill the pulpit of a LGBTQ pastor who was removed for “God’s given sexual orientation or gender identity.” Marching around the Oregon Convention Center, a group of LGBTQ supporters sang and shouted, “Tear the Walls Down Now” in reference to the Bible story of Jericho, and asked an openly gay pastor to be a bishop candidate.

Reconciling Ministries Network announced the letter supporting LGBTQ clergy in a press conference. The Love Your Neighbor Coalition organized the march. LGBTQ supporters were vocal and visible at the 2016 General Conference.

More than 100 pieces of legislation related to full inclusion of LGBTQ people. LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning. Some advocacy groups add I for intersex.

The Rev. Ginger Gaines-Cirelli, pastor of Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington; the Rev. Gil Caldwell, retired; and the Rev. Frank Schaefer, pastor of University United Methodist Church in Isla Vista, California, wrote the letter now circulating across the denomination.

“We, the undersigned clergy of The United Methodist Church, believe it is time – time for us to end the practice of requiring LGBTQI clergy and clergy candidates to hide their most authentic selves. Thus, we call upon General Conference to remove the prohibitions against openly LGBTQI persons being ordained and serving as clergy in our churches,” the letter states.

“One’s God-given sexual orientation or gender identity neither qualif(ies) nor disqualif(ies) a person for ordained ministry,” Gaines-Cirelli said.

Since May 9, more than 120 LGBTQ clergy and candidates have come out as gay and in a letter addressed to The United Methodist Church.

On May 7, the Rev. David Meredith married Jim Schlachter at Broad Street United Methodist Church in Columbus, Ohio.

Joey Lopez, a member of the Love Your Neighbor Coalition, introduced Meredith at the march. Then he said, “I have been having a conversation since August. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had an outed gay bishop?” The crowd roared approval.

Meredith, pastor of Clifton United Methodist Church in Cincinnati, explained why he is willing to answer the call. “One of the responsibilities of United Methodist clergy is to be available to the call of God for episcopacy. So when people here asked me to be available, I felt the urging of the Spirit and the power of God to say ‘yes.’

“Love will make us better instead of exclusion that makes us worse.”

Kathy Gilbert is a multimedia news reporter for United Methodist News Service.

Comments

  1. To the angel of the church in Thyatira write:

    These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. 19 I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.

    20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. 21 I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. 22 So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. 23 I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.

    24 Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets, ‘I will not impose any other burden on you, 25 except to hold on to what you have until I come.’

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