Over 100 clergy members come out as LGBT at the United Methodist General Conference 2016.
According to The United Methodist Book of Discipline, the Church officially considers the practice of homosexuality incompatible with Christian teaching. Self-avowed practicing homosexuals cannot be ordained as ministers. The Church prohibits the celebration of same-sex marriages. It forbids any of its committee, board, council, commission or board to give United Methodist funds to any LGBT group or organization. In effect, the Church prohibits its funds to be used for the promotion of homosexuality.
The Church has a history of disagreement on the issue of homosexuality. The General Conference has consistently voted on the issue, however, there has always been a lot of disagreement within the body of Church. The LGBT community is hoping that it will re-evaluate its discriminatory policies against them during this year's General Conference. The 2016 General Conference started last Tuesday (May10th) at the Oregon Convention Center. It will be concluded on May 20th.
Last Monday, ahead of the convening of the General Conference, more than 100 clergy members and clergy candidates in the United Methodist Church came out as LGBT, and released a letter publicly to the Church, requesting them to change their stance on homosexuality. The letter, drafted by the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN), states that their prayer during the time of the General Conference would be that the Church would remember the thousands of LGBT people and their families in the Church, looking for a word of hope and healing. They remain faithful to the Church even when the Church refuses to accept them because they believe in God's mercies and great faithfulness. RMN is an organization actively advocating for the inclusion of LGBT members in both the practices and policy of United Methodist Church.
According to Reverend Laura Young, the executive director of the Ohio Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, she signed the letter because she believes that the Church's, as well as the society's “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is damaging to a person's soul. God wants everybody to shine their light brightly, not hide it. Young said that it is time to change the unjust policies of the Church.
Young, and the other clergy members who signed the letter knows the consequences of their action. However, they are not afraid of losing their jobs or any other disciplinary actions the Church may take against them.
President of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, Bishop Warner H. Brown Jr., said that the Church accepts the sacred worth of all people and it welcomes all. The General Conference would consider the Church's stance on the ordination of clergy who identify themselves as an LGBT member.