By Gerry Dincher (Flickr: Hay Street United Methodist Church) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Gerry Dincher (Flickr: Hay Street United Methodist Church) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The nomination of three openly gay ministers goes against the United Methodist Church’s rules on homosexuality.

Three ministers of United Methodist Church, Rev. Karen Oliveto, Rev. David Meredith and Rev. Frank Wulf- have been nominated for Bishop posts in the church. All three are openly gay. This development has escalated the ongoing debate taking place in the denomination over the LGBT issues. It also directly challenges the official prohibition concerning homosexuality.

The three ministers were nominated in early June as candidates for the UMC Bishop position in two dissimilar Methodist jurisdictions. This happened even as UMC's Book of Discipline condemns homosexuality. It also bans any ordination of any self-avowed practicing homosexuals.

The three gay ministers are among 54 candidates in the competition to fill 15 vacant positions as bishops. The inclusion on the ballots will be done through a number of jurisdictional elections held all over the US in the week of July 13.

This is not the first instance where a gay candidate has enjoyed nomination. Wulf himself was nominated once before, as per the Executive Director of Reconciling Ministries, Matt Berryman. There is no doubt about the progressive momentum this time following the Portland-held General Conference of the United Methodist Church.

According to Berryman, an increasing number of annual conferences are declining to comply with Book of Discipline, and open ordination to LGBT people and also the passing of resolutions which affirm God's image in transgender people. The actions build on the pivot which was implemented at the General Conference.

In the United States, the United Methodist Bishops get elected by the five jurisdictional conferences of the denomination. Similar to the international General Conference, the jurisdictional conferences usually meet at intervals of four years. Many LGBT rights advocates hold the belief that it is the ideal time- and the first time ever- that conditions are right for an LGBT candidate to be a bishop. There is an excellent chance that an LGBT bishop will be installed in the North Central Jurisdiction or the Western Jurisdiction of the church.

The situation was extremely unlike even a few years ago. Even though a substantial portion of American Methodists are supportive of same-sex marriages, a conservative delegate coalition from the US and other countries have repeatedly blocked the required votes at the denominational meetings. This action stops the formalization of this sentiment in the doctrine of the church. Candidates, for their part, can nominate themselves. Many of them are nominated by other groups before the jurisdictional conferences.


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