UMC One Church Vote Earns Cheers, Jeers Across World
The United Methodist Church’s Special Session of the General Conference voted against the so-called ‘One Church’ plan to stand against homosexuality.
The results of the United Methodist Church’s worldwide vote against a One Church plan this week were met with sadness and dismay or righteous indignation, depending on your own views of homosexuality.
The conference had the choice to vote for one of two primary plans.
The Traditional Church plan would maintained the current position, that marriage is only acceptable between a man and woman and that openly gay people could not serve as clergy.
Meanwhile, the One Church plan would have left those decisions up to individual churches or regional conferences within the denomination, which could have paved the way for the church to recognize and conduct same-sex marriage and ordain LGBTQ members as clergy.
That’s the “in a nutshell” version; you can read a more detailed version here, but I note this first bullet point from that article:
The plan states that we are not of one mind regarding human sexuality and affirms “those who continue to maintain that the Scriptural witness does not condone the practice of homosexuality,” as well as “those who believe the witness of Scripture calls us to reconsider the teaching of the church with respect to monogamous homosexual relationships.”
The vote to keep the traditional view of marriage and ban openly gay clergy is, of course, a victory for the traditionalists in the denomination. But, one wonders, at what cost does this victory come?
The alternate proposal, after all, was designed to keep together a denomination that has already begun to split over the question of what roles — if any — gay members should have in the church.
Support for the more liberal plan was reportedly strongest by far in the United States, while other countries were quicker to claim a more universally traditional view.
What were they so afraid of?
One of the less obvious features of the One Church plan, in a way, becomes its most important: it leaves such questions to be answered locally or regionally, not universally.
What would have been so wrong with letting individual churches decide for themselves how they would address such issues? Where there are questions threatening to disrupt a denomination, why can’t a church have the option to decide for itself? If so many members disagree, they’ll find a different church.
It seems to me, based on this vote, that’s what’s going to happen anyway.