The United Methodist Church's General Conference, the denomination's top legislative body, voted Thursday by a 61 percent majority against adopting an amendment that would have altered language declaring homosexuality as sinful in official church doctrine.
Two amendments were in consideration during this morning's UMC conference, which draws Methodists from around the world to discuss church issues. One petition sought to alter UMC's statement on homosexuality in its Book of Discipline, and the other to acknowledge as a body to "agree to disagree" on the issue of homosexuality.
The Social Principles section of United Methodist teachings on sexuality in the Book of Discipline states: "The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching;" and "Although all persons are sexual beings whether or not they are married, sexual relations are affirmed only with the covenant of monogamous, heterosexual marriage." more >>
The United Methodist Church's (UMC) General Conference is currently taking place in Tampa, Fla., and will feature its continuing debate on gay clergy and same-sex marriage. Some have suggested that, in order to keep its membership from dwindling, the Methodist church must come to a compromise on its long-held doctrines on such issues.
Nearly 1,000 delegates, 40 percent of whom live outside the United States, are present at the General Conference, which happens once every four years. At each assembly for more than 40 years now, the UMC has debated its position on homosexuality. The conference, which takes place between April 24 and May 4, announced that this year there are more than 70 petitions on homosexuality, many of which seek to rewrite articles 161F and 161B in the 2008 United Methodist Book of Discipline that address homosexual clergy and same-sex marriage.
The UMC supports the traditional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, and requires clergy members to adhere to "the highest standards of holy living." According to the church, "The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church." more >>
For Lent this year, one Protestant denomination is calling members to give up something a little more difficult for some: alcohol.
The United Methodist Church's Board of Church and Society has asked its members to participate in an "Alcohol Free Lent," which means that Methodists who choose to participate would give up the habit of drinking alcohol for the season.
"A lack of awareness to the implications and consequences of normalizing alcohol use is an ongoing concern and threat to public health," said Jim Winkler, general secretary of the board, in a statement. more >>
A book that boasts of being "the first of its kind" to document the history of the Methodist Church's involvement in American politics has been released.
Mark Tooley, president of the Institute of Religion and Democracy, wrote Methodism and Politics in the Twentieth Century as a chronicle of the history of the denomination's influence on society.
A Methodist himself, Tooley first became interested in the topic of Methodism and politics as a college student who was part of his church's delegation to the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church. more >>
A new project by The United Methodist Church called Spark12 is focused on reaching and keeping youth in the church. The initiative will give young people tools, and funding, to create ministries that tackle their interests.
The Rev. April Casperson, an executive member of the Spark12 team, told The Christian Post that many young adults are already involved in secular social justice initiatives. She said her team found "that young adults want to make a difference in the world, but don't always have the confidence in religious organizations." more >>
Minnesota's First United Methodist Church has taken a new approach to reconnecting congregants to their faith.
The church in St. Cloud is asking people who have averted from their faith to attend their services, which will be less "preachy."
Starting Saturday, First United Methodist will offer congregants who "aren't so sure about church" a service that consists mostly of just music and meditation, said the Rev. William Meier. more >>