A D V E R T I S E M E N T

okumc-for-lgbt-equalitySince 1972, the United Methodist Church has had an official stance that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. The only other activity we officially declare to be incompatible with Christian teaching, interestingly, is war. Over the years, our “Book of Discipline” (our book of church law which guides us) has been modified to ban “self-avowed practicing” homosexuals from being ordained, to declare that marriage is only between one man and one woman, to ban our clergy from celebrating same sex marriages, and from using official church funds to “promote homosexuality.” At the same time we declare that homosexuals are persons of sacred worth, that God’s grace is available to all.

Two main groups have been working ever since to either maintain our current standards or to change our views. On the one side are those who see homosexuality as sin. LGBT persons are welcome in our churches but they are to remain celibate if single. An unofficial group known as “Transforming Congregations” believes that LGBT persons are in need of God’s healing power in their lives. It would be assumed that some homosexuals would eventually be able to marry someone of the opposite sex.

On the other side is the Reconciling Ministries Network. This group is working for the full inclusion of LGBT persons in the life of the church. This includes ordination and same gender marriages. Regardless of one’s sexual orientation or identity, all are to be treated fairly and equally.

There are groups and persons who see themselves in the “middle,” with the transforming folks and the reconciling folks being the “extreme” positions in the church. It’s hard sometimes to tell exactly what is meant by “middle” unless it’s a type of “don’t ask, don’t tell” position. People who take this middle position might be fine with LGBT persons joining our churches and being full participants in the local church while at the same time opposing same gender marriages taking place in the context of the church. This is just one example of how a “middle position” might be a reality in the minds of many United Methodists. There are many variations on this concept of “Methodist middle.”

The United Methodist Church has been praying, researching, discussing, fighting, legislating, debating, voting, writing, speaking, ignoring, side-stepping, and what we Methodists like to call “conferencing” on the topic of homosexuality for over 42 years now. What’s next for the United Methodist Church and the LGBT community? Only time will tell.

But a few days ago, 119 United Methodist clergy in Oklahoma signed an open letter publicly declaring their support for marriage equality and full participation of LGBTQ persons in ordained ministry within the church. The letter was published in Oklahoma’s two leading papers, The Oklahoman and the Tulsa World. In 1998, a similar letter was released — with only 10 signers from Oklahoma. That represents more than a twelve-fold increase in support, with more clergy adding their names daily.  It’s a great sign that not only is full equality being recognized in our states, but also in our church.

 

OPEN LETTER TO THE PEOPLE OF OKLAHOMA

The United Methodist Church’s official teaching is that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching while at the same time God’s grace is available to all. We have church laws in place forbidding clergy from performing same gender weddings and forbidding non-celibate LGBT clergy from being ordained. Nevertheless, there are many United Methodist clergy and laity who are not in agreement with our church’s current rules and teachings. Our denomination allows for open discussion of ideas, dissent, and has a process for creating change in our rules. Our denomination’s top legislative body (General Conference) is the only entity that can speak on behalf of the denomination, yet we know many faithful United Methodist Christians wish to see a church fully inclusive of the LGBT community. We respectfully and humbly argue that United Methodists are not of one mind in our understanding of human sexuality and homosexuality. Through our engagement with scripture, tradition, reason, and experience, we have come to affirm the rights and dignity of all persons regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.

We celebrate the freedoms coming to the LGBT community in Oklahoma and we pledge our love, affirmation and equal treatment to all persons. We do so as we continue to pray and work for a fully inclusive United Methodist Church.

Signed….

  1. Rev. Jim Gragg
  2. Rev. Trina Bose North
  3. Rev. Scott Spencer
  4. Rev. Jack Terrell-Wilkes
  5. Rev. Shelly Daigle
  6. Rev. Jeni Markham Clewell
  7. Rev. Nathan Mattox
  8. Rev. Dr. Mark Davies
  9. Rev. Paul W. Calkin
  10. Rev. Dr. Allen Buck
  11. Rev. Deborah Ingraham
  12. Rev. Bill Todd
  13. Rev. John D. Rusty Williams
  14. Rev. Valerie Steele
  15. Rev. Glenda Skinner-Noble
  16. Rev. Dr. Rex Wilkes
  17. Rev. Diana Cox Crawford
  18. Rev. David Rose
  19. Rev. Susan Ross
  20. Rev. Jeannie Himes
  21. Rev. Twila Gibbens
  22. Rev. Dennis Adlof
  23. Rev. Carole Minter
  24. Rev. Amy Venable
  25. Rev. Ed Light
  26. Rev. Anthony Zahn
  27. Rev. Margaret A. Ball
  28. Rev. Ginger Howl
  29. Rev. Dr. Leslie Long
  30. Rev. Margaret North
  31. Rev. Phil Jones
  32. Rev. Denny Hook
  33. Rev. Dr. Kirt E. Moelling
  34. Rev. Mike DeMoss
  35. Rev. Jennifer Long
  36. Rev. Sharon Betsworth
  37. Deaconess Pat Hoerth
  38. Rev. Bruce Davis
  39. Rev. David Wiggs
  40. Rev. Bill Crowell
  41. Rev. Sonja Tobey
  42. Rev. Susanna Weslie Southard
  43. Rev. Jim Wilson
  44. Rev Dr Ellen Blue
  45. Rev. Dr. Grayson L Lucky
  46. Rev. Dr. Sheila Combs-Francis
  47. Rev. Tracy Schumpert
  48. Rev. Guy Langston
  49. Rev Marilynn Schellhamer
  50. Rev Linda Muterspaugh
  51. Rev. Kay Shock
  52. Rev. James Jones
  53. Rev. Marla Lobo
  54. Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Box Price
  55. Rev. John Price
  56. Rev. Dr. Sandy Wylie
  57. Rev. Mark Whitley
  58. Rev. Joel Betow
  59. Rev. Montie Jones
  60. Rev. Galeda Jones
  61. Rev. Glen Chebon Kernell
  62. Rev. Leroy Thompson
  63. Rev. Neal Baumwart
  64. Rev. Bill Hathaway
  65. Rev. Ginny Hathaway
  66. Rev. Rebecca Morton
  67. Rev. Daniel K Fletcher
  68. Rev. Warren K. Russell
  69. Rev. Susan Southall
  70. Rev. Suzanne Davis
  71. Rev. Marilyn Weathers
  72. Rev. Ron Weathers
  73. Rev. Ken Tobler
  74. Rev. Dr. Stan Basler
  75. Rev. Neil C Winslow
  76. Rev. Dr. Bill Moorer
  77. Rev. Josh Langille-Hoppe
  78. Rev. Dr. David Severe
  79. Rev. Dr. Phil Fenn
  80. Rev. John Adams
  81. Rev. Terry Martindale
  82. Rev. Linda McFadden
  83. Rev. Dr. Perry L. Williams
  84. Rev. Richard Whetsell
  85. Rev. Roger R. Wood
  86. Rev. Mary Lue Eastmond
  87. Rev. Bob Gardenhire
  88. Rev. Michael Asher
  89. Rev. David Clewell
  90. Rev. David Conrad
  91. Rev. April Coates
  92. Rev. Dr. Charlotte Teel
  93. Rev. Dr. Gene Hunt
  94. Rev. Helen Taylor
  95. Rev. Dr. William R. Chace
  96. Rev. Richard Cato
  97. Rev. Adam Leathers
  98. Rev. Pam Cottrill
  99. Rev. Marcia Shoemaker
  100. Rev. Linda Lusnia
  101. Rev. Carolyn Murrow
  102. Rev. Dan Frisby
  103. Rev. Susan Marks
  104. Rev. Charles King
  105. Rev. Keith O. McArtor
  106. Rev. Don Tabberer
  107. Rev. Anne Clement
  108. Rev. Norman V Wasson
  109. Rev. Ed Cook
  110. Rev. Mary Ann Emmons
  111. Rev. Mary L. Ewing
  112. Rev. Ben D. Ewing
  113. Rev. Ruth Karns Atterberry
  114. Rev. Sara Pugh Montgomery
  115. Rev. Pat Ghormley
  116. Rev. Connell Ghormley
  117. Rev. Kristiane Smith
  118. Rev. John M. Morgan
  119. Rev Jen Logsdon-Kellogg

(see the list as it progresses, here)

[box type=”bio”]
spencer-scott-42SCOTT SPENCER is a native Oklahoman and an ordained United Methodist pastor who has served rural churches, campus ministry, suburban churches, and is currently a pastor in Ponca City, OK.

He is a strong supporter of the LGBTQ community.
[/box]

Scroll Up