Thursday, June 12, 2008

Annual Conferences Asked to Step Out for Equality

Today is the first day of the New England Annual Conference where we will gather clergy and lay representatives from Maine to Rhode Island to discern the movement of the Holy Spirit in leading the Church. As we gather this week for holy conferencing in the Wesleyan tradition, we are reminded by Rev. Gil Caldwell, a member of our conference, of God's call for equality in both the world and Church alike. In a recent commnetary for UMNexus, he writes:

"Who in The United Methodist Church “steps out” to remind the church of its biblical and Discipline-based commitment to a God-given human equality?

I raise this question because in recent years a series of State Supreme Court decisions and governors’ actions remind us that equality lies at the heart American democracy. The recent decision of the California Supreme Court to affirm equal access to “marriage unions” for same gender couples is a 2008 action comparable to the 2006 decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Court that declared the same thing. Governor David Paterson of New York has ordered state officials to honor same-gender marriages that have taken place elsewhere.

Yet our UMC, which answers to an even higher power than the U.S. Constitution, actively denies equality in the church to some.

Specifically, the United Methodist Book of Discipline declares that homosexual persons are of sacred worth. After declaring that, however, the Discipline restricts the ways that these persons are able to live out their sacredness. LGBT people are not allowed to be ordained to the ministry, nor to have their unions solemnized in United Methodist churches by United Methodist pastors, nor even to have church funds available to help make others aware of the injustices they suffer.

Martin Luther King, Jr. asked: 'Why is the Church always a taillight rather than a headlight in society?'"


1 comment:

Matt Algren said...

The West Ohio Annual Conference ends today. They were to vote on three related recommendations (#11 through #13. Here's a smallish pdf) yesterday, but I don't know which way any of them went. It's a fairly conservative conference, but we have a fairly progressive bishop.