Hundreds of Methodists in Alabama are apologizing to the LGBTQ community for the church’s homophobia. The denomination has been racked with discord since a tumultuous convention that ended with followers split on the issues of LGBGQ rights.
The General Conference of the United Methodist Church voted to reaffirm their teaching that homosexuality is “incompatible” with Christianity and to punish individual churches that perform marriages for same-sex couples and allow LGBTQ clergy.
At the same time, other resolutions was up for a vote that would have apologized to the LGBTQ community, affirmed LGBTQ people’s worth, endorsed same-sex marriage, and allowed for LGBTQ clergy members. The measure was defeated in favor of the one the condemned LGBTQ people by a faction of African and American conservative delegates.
At the North Alabama Conference in June, some members tried to pass an apology for the convention decision, but the measure also failed. So now members are taking matters into their own hands by posting a public apology online and asking other members of the conference to join them.
“For every time that someone in the church has hurt you because of who you are or who you love, we are deeply sorry; we hurt with you, and we are committed to pursuing God’s love and justice with you,” the letter says. “We also wish to do more than apologize. We hope to deeply and loudly affirm your sacred worth, and we commit to seeking out your voices and leadership as we aim for a more grace-filled and grace-led denomination.”
“We grieve our denomination’s failure to uphold our own Methodist standards of doing no harm and honoring the sacred, God-given worth of every individual, without qualification,” the letter continues. “It is not enough to blame the stubbornness of our denomination and slowness of our movement for change on the complexity of being a global body. The church has always been a global body, and throughout its history the Holy Spirit has fallen in new ways on new communities, growing the family of God’s grace and pressing all toward a more faithful walk with Christ.”
“We should have done more to follow the movement of God’s Spirit, and we are sorry for our failure. We are sorry for the harm of General Conference 2019, but we are convinced it is not the last word for the people called Methodist.”
Several American churches have publicly defied the church’s resolution on LGBTQ rights by covering up the words “United Methodist” on their church signs or displaying rainbow banners. One entire confirmation class in Nebraska declined to become members after the church’s vote to uphold anti-LGBTQ policies.
Organizers say over 600 Alabamans have signed on to the apology.