UMC’s Western Jurisdiction announces ‘safe harbor’ for LGBTQ clergy

Religion News Service | 11/6/2019 | Staff
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(RNS) — The bishops of the Western Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church have declared their churches a “safe harbor” for LGBTQ clergy.

The Safe Harbor Declaration was announced Wednesday (Nov. 6) as United Methodists’ Council of Bishops wrapped up its autumn meeting in Lake Junaluska, North Carolina.

Months - Restrictions - Denomination - Ban - Ordination

And it comes months before new restrictions strengthening the denomination’s ban on the ordination and marriage of its LGBTQ members, which are set to take effect on Jan. 1.

“We are haunted by the actions of the 2019 Special General Conference, which impose new and harmful definitions and restrictions on full participation of LGBTQ+ persons in the Church and abandon robust engagement of scripture to narrow biblical literalism,” the declaration stated.

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“We do not believe The United Methodist Church has the authority or the power to impose limits on the movement of God’s Holy Spirit in the lives of God’s beloved LGBTQ+ children.”

The restrictions come as part of the Traditional Plan approved in February by a special session of the General Conference, the denomination’s global decision-making body.

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The Traditional Plan bars bishops from consecrating, ordaining or commissioning “self-avowed practicing homosexuals,” even if they have been elected or approved by the appropriate church body. It prohibits those church bodies from approving or recommending them as candidates, as well.

The plan also will make it easier to file complaints against LGBTQ United Methodists seeking to enter ministry and against clergy presiding over same-sex weddings, according to the bishops of the Western Jurisdiction.

Complaint - Procedures - Penalties - Denomination - Rulebook

It strengthens current complaint procedures and penalties in the denomination’s rulebook, the Book of Discipline. A clergy member who performs a same-sex wedding will face a minimum one-year suspension without pay for the first offense and a loss of credentials for the second.

There is nothing else in the denomination’s rulebook, the Book of Discipline, that comes with a mandatory...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Religion News Service
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