United Methodist Church Lifts Gay Clergy Ban

“There’s just been a lot of pain in order to get us to this place.”

In an historic move, United Methodist delegates repealed their church’s long-standing ban on LGBTQ+ members of the clergy Wednesday.

“Self-avowed practicing homosexuals” have been forbidden from being ordained or appointed as ministers since 1984. The church later banned same-sex marriages, listing any gay union as a “chargeable offense that could result in a church trial.”

The topic has been controversial with the Methodist community, but the church made a major switch today. Delegates voted 692-51 at their General Conference, the first such gathering in five years, according to the Associated Press. At past conferences, the church upheld the ban, reinforcing penalties. The massive margin is a result of many conservative members departing from the church in recent years.

“It seemed like such a simple vote, but it carried so much weight and power, as 50 years of restricting the Holy Spirit’s call on people’s lives has been lifted,” said Bishop Karen Oliveto, the first openly lesbian bishop in the United Methodist Church, AP reports.

Last week, the church proclaimed a new statement of support “for the equal rights, liberties, and protections of all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Matt Patrick, a co-pastor at the University United Methodist Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, spoke to CNN about the decision.

“I did tear up this morning at the announcement of the vote because it was just a huge relief to see justice had been done after so many years,” he said. “There’s just been a lot of pain in order to get us to this place.”

While the ban on a gay clergy has been lifted, the church still has much to do.

More revised Social Principles are set to be voted on in the coming weeks. This includes a proposal that would remove the church’s 52-year-old statement that “the practice of homosexuality… is incompatible with Christian teaching,” according to UM News.

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