Wednesday Word: Love and the UMC
What's love got to do with it? – Tina Turner
As I write this, our brothers and sisters over at the United Methodist Church are on the verge of imploding. They are currently holding their General Conference meeting in St. Louis (their version of our General Convention) and debating whether or not to allow LGBT people to hold leadership roles within the church (specifically whether or not they should be allowed to become ordained pastors) and whether or not to allow for same sex marriages to take place within their church.
There are two plans being debated. One, called the Traditional Plan, would more stringently enforce UMC rules against LGBT people, further marginalizing them within the church and more vigorously pursuing ecclesiastical charges against those clergy who are pro-equality. The second, called the One Church Plan, would allow each individual congregation to determine whether to include or ban LGBT people and to support, or not, LGBT clergy.
This debate in the UMC is similar to the debates over these issues that the Episcopal church (TEC) faced several years ago. It is also similar in that the majority of those pursuing the Traditional Plan, as I understand it, are from African nations; much like those putting forth anti-LGBT proposals and demands in TEC and the Anglican Communion come from African nations supported by money from conservative US groups.
Right now it appears that the Traditional Plan has the upper hand. This debate, vote, and ultimate decision will have far-reaching consequences for our friends in the UMC. Of course, I don't know what those results will be; but I've heard they could entail everything from a new pro-equality, pro-LGBT denomination being created, to a mass exodus of pro-equality, pro-LGBT parishioners from the UMC.
What's love got to do with it? Everything.
God created out of love. Love your enemies. God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. This is the message we have heard from the beginning: Love one another. Love one another, for love comes from God. Faith, Hope, and Love: and the greatest of these is Love. God shows no partiality.
Right now the UMC is debating and plotting their course for the future: Will they opt for a course that continues to see LGBT people as less than and as unworthy to receive love and acceptance in the church? Or will they opt for a course that allows for LGBT people to be welcomed, affirmed, and appreciated? I have an idea on which course they will choose. As they make that choice, I would make two points: 1) Bigotry wrapped in prayer is still bigotry; and 2) God is love.
Pray for the UMC. If you have friends in that denomination, let them know you are praying for them. Let them know that God is love, and that love has everything to do with it.