United Methodists Make Historic Vote, Repealing Ban

(RepublicanDaily.org) – In a stunning break from established conservative tradition, delegates of the United Methodist church in the U.S. voted to repeal a time-honored and enduring ban that prohibited gay people – and by extension all members of the LGBTQ+ community – from becoming ordained ministers and preachers.

The repeal won by an overwhelming 692 to 51 during the group’s General Conference, a major event that has not been held for the last half a decade. The question of gay Methodist ministers has been an issue that has also been voted on in past General Conferences, but the ban on their ordination has always been upheld by the voting delegates, despite protests and petitions from LGBTQ+ groups.

Methodists as a group have moved towards holding more progressive principles in recent years. Before it allowed the new policy of allowing gay ministers, the church had also stood apart from the general consensus among American evangelical groups in that it allowed women to become members of its clergy.

Bishop Tracy Smith Malone, the first Black woman to become president of the group’s Council of Bishops, said that the repeal of the ban simply reflected the United Methodists’ approach of being a “big-tent church” that accepts and welcomes “all of God’s beloved.”

“God [is] breaking down walls,” Malone said of the denominations new direction. She also described the atmosphere during and after the vote as a “Pentecost moment.”

Under the Methodist church’s new rules, “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” will be allowed to become ordained ministers. In the same vein, United Methodist churches will be allowed to hold same-sex marriages. Clergy still has the choice to agree, or decline, to perform marriage rites for LGBTQ+ couples, and cannot be punished or sanctioned regardless of what choice they make. The last caveat essentially gives regional bodies of the denomination autonomy in making decisions on gender identity and sexuality. The move is an attempt to pacify the still much more conservative international membership of the denomination.

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