United Methodist Church keeps ban on gay clergy, same-sex marriage

Free Press wire reports | 3/8/2019, noon
“We’re in this to the end,” sang LGBTQ United Methodists and their allies.

Jen Ihlo, a delegate from the Baltimore-Washington Conference, said it is hard for her to believe the Judicial Council “will do the right thing,” she said. “But we’ll see.”

Numb and exhausted after the General Conference, Ms. Ihlo said she came to the Love Your Neighbor Coalition’s worship service because she needed to be with her community and will later figure out her next steps.

“I was baptized and confirmed in the United Methodist Church, but that church doesn’t seem to exist anymore. It’s judgmental. It’s divisive, it’s harmful. And that’s not what Jesus preached,” she said.

“That was why I needed to be here. And that’s what I was hoping for and fighting for as a delegate.”

The Wesleyan Covenant Association Council also met Feb. 27 and 28 to analyze the decisions made by the General Conference and determine its next steps.

Before the vote, the Rev. Keith Boyette, president of the WCA, had said he would recommend the association leave the United Methodist Church and form its own denomination if LGBTQ members were permitted to become clergy and marry. But following the vote, Rev. Boyette said such a split was “unlikely.”

The Rev. Adam Hamilton, a prominent pastor and delegate from the Great Plains Conference who had advocated the One Church Plan, said approval of the Traditional Plan alienated not just progressive United Methodists, but also those in the middle. A number of people who hadn’t been engaged in the debate, were now hurt, angry and energized, he said.

“I ain’t going nowhere,” said Adama Hathaway-Brown, a certified candidate for ministry in the New England Conference, who identified herself as a “same-gender-loving woman.”

“There are just too many people to serve and I’ve come way too far to leave them now.”

In her conference, she said, there are people to feed at the soup kitchen; veterans and senior citizens to reach; and a number of people wanting to worship in a community that welcomes and affirms LGBTQ people. They were there before the General Conference, she said, and they are still there after the meeting.