WASHINGTON -- May 5 -- The United Methodist Church continues to discriminate against sexual minorities despite the recent decision overturning the removal of a lesbian Philadelphia ministers clergy status.
We celebrate with Beth Stroud and her family, but the reason for the reversal is on legal grounds that do little to overturn decades of discrimination in The United Methodist Church, said the Rev. Troy Plummer, executive director of the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN).
In response to the Stroud appeal, the Council of Bishops urged patience while also reaffirming the discriminatory practices of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church.
We know the bishops are not of one mind on this issue, just as the church is not of one mind, Plummer said. Our prayer is that the church follows in the reconciling ministry of Jesus Christ, and lives out its commitment to open hearts, open minds and open doors.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are powerfully and permanently part of the United Methodist family through the sacrament of baptism and through their faithful participation in the life of the church, Plummer said. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are called to be clergy through the power of the Holy Spirit. Judged worthy by the board of ordained ministry, Beth Stroud has been affirmed to have the gifts and graces of an effective pastor--even by the church prosecutors. When will the church stop acting against these signs of the Spirit?
While disappointed that the committees narrow legal decision did not address the substantive issues of Beth Strouds direct challenge to the churchs prejudice, we are pleased that the committee seeks to hold the church accountable to its own rules of fair process. The committee on appeals decision unmasks a history of circumventing the rules in haste to harm lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons.
Reconciling Ministries Network is a national grassroots organization that exists to enable full participation of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities in the life of the United Methodist Church, both in policy and practice.