Norway’s Methodist Church apologizes to LGBT community for 'condemning attitudes'

First Methodist Church of Oslo
First Methodist Church of Oslo | Wikimedia/Vidariv

Approved by its leadership, the Norwegian Methodist Church recently published a statement apologizing for the denomination’s “attitudes and actions” that may have hurt the LGBT community.

“The Methodist Church in Norway admits and apologizes for the condemning attitudes and actions that have inflicted insults, harm and suffering on LGBT+ people instead of dignity,” says the denomination on its website, according to Evangelical Focus.

“This is contrary to the gospel of God’s unconditional grace and love. Every human being is created in the image of God and loved by God.”

Speaking to Methodist Church’s magazine Brobyggeren, the head of the denomination’s board, Audun Westad, sought to explain: “We have not been able to offer the security people should be able to expect. Therefore, it is necessary that we as a church just take a stand on this and sincerely apologize and forgive.”

The decision to issue an apology was made at the denomination’s annual conference in 2019, according to the Focus.

Asked if any person from the LGBT community had been involved in formulating the apology, Westad said, “Yes, it has been an important part of it for us that everyone is involved in the process. We can not only talk about people but must talk with the people involved.”

At the 2019 meeting, the leaders decided to start a process on a path toward an “inclusive” view of human sexuality.

However, the global denomination has been divided over noncelibate LGBT clergy and same-sex marriage for years.

In the United States last December, a 16-member group of bishops and church leaders on both sides of the debate from The United Methodist Church met and proposed a separation plan, saying that “the best means to resolve our differences” was to allow “each part of the Church to remain true to its theological understanding while recognizing the dignity, equality, integrity, and respect of every person.”

The churches that chose to leave would be given $25 million to start their own denomination.

“The United Methodist Church and its members — after careful reflection, discussion and prayer — have fundamental differences regarding their understanding and interpretation of Scripture, theology, and practice,” the proposal states.

Keith Boyette, a signatory to the deal and president of the Wesleyan Covenant Association, a group of over 1,000 conservative congregations that oppose same-sex marriage, estimated at the time that 30 to 40% of the denomination in the U.S. would leave the United Methodist Church.

The proposal requires approval by the General Conference. The 2020 General Conference has been postponed to August 2021.

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