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A key vote was held at the United Methodist General Conference in St. Louis, Missouri, on Tuesday, banning LGBTQ clergy members and weddings, and giving individual clergy and churches until 2021 to affirm the stance or be expelled.
Initially, a vote was held on the “One Church” proposal, which would have allowed individual congregations to decide for themselves whether or not to allow LGBTQ clergy and same-sex weddings in their church. In a speech supporting a vote on the proposal, J.J. Warren, a gay student studying to become a pastor, spoke of his experience as a gay Methodist. “As someone who is gay and goes to the least religious college in the U.S., my evangelism on campus has grown,” said Warren in his speech before the conference. “We have brought people to Jesus because they said they have not heard this message before. They didn’t know God could love them, because their churches said God didn’t.”
"I want to be a pastor in the Methodist church because I love our tradition!" @itsmejjwarren, a gay college student from New York and delegate to the United Methodist Church's historic conference on LGBTQ rights, makes an impassioned speech on the floor of #GC2019 #UMCGC pic.twitter.com/8zTQQahf86— Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons (@GuthrieGF) February 25, 2019
Arguments over the plans lasted for several days before coming to a vote. The delegates to the conference voted 449 to 374 to reject the One Church proposal. In its place was another proposal, the “Traditional Plan.” This proposal affirmed the United Methodist Church’s stance against LGBTQ inclusion, explicitly rejecting same-sex weddings and non-celibate LGBTQ clergy members. The Traditional Plan passed by a vote of 438 to 384, giving Methodist congregations until 2021 to affirm the anti-LGBTQ stance of the church at large, or possibly face removal from United Methodist.
Methodists and Christians reacted to the news online and in person. LGBTQ Methodists who were prevented from entering the delegate floor sat outside singing worship songs, and people encouraged each other to not lose faith.
Just receiving news of the United Methodist General Conference vote. This is heartbreaking news. I will continue to pray for the denomination, specifically for the LGBTQ people who will be the direct casualties of this decision.— Broderick Greer (@BroderickGreer) February 27, 2019
Even though the vote was close and many within the church still support LGBTQ rights, the effects were quickly visible. Warren, whose speech went viral, tweeted that on the stage of the conference his bishop told him he would not ordain Warren. Like many other Methodists, Warren is determined to have an inclusive church. He followed up the tweet about the bishop with another, saying, “STAY WITH ME IN THIS WILDERNESS SO THAT ONE DAY WE WILL BRING THE #UMC INTO THE PROMISED LAND.”
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H/T Pink News
Alex Dalbey is a writer and zinester currently living in Saint Paul, Minnesota. They have written for The Daily Dot, Kill Screen, The Lingerie Addict, and Bullet Points.