The Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church edited the historic Apostles' Creed so that it removed references to God as "Father" for a worship service.
The Apostles' Creed is an affirmation of Christian faith that goes back to the early Church and is still common in many churches that include liturgy as part of worship.
At the multiday Minnesota Conference, which went from May 30–June 1, liturgical folders reportedly included a copy of the creed that removed gender specific language for God, changing "God the Father Almighty" to "God the Creator Almighty" and "Jesus Christ His Only Son" to "Jesus Christ God's Only Son."
The Christian Post reached out to the Minnesota Conference for further details about the edited creed and its use, and will update this piece when a response is received.
The Rev. Keith Mcilwain, pastor at Slippery Rock United Methodist Church in the Western Pennsylvania Conference, posted an image of the edited creed on social media.
In an interview with The Christian Post on Wednesday, Mcilwain explained that he got his hands on a copy of the edited creed from a friend of his who attended the Annual Conference.
Mcilwain took issue with the edits, explaining that it "fails to affirm the classical ecumenically-supported understanding of the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity, which teaches us that God has been revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."
"No United Methodist individual or body has the authority to edit those creeds which were formulated by the early Church and have helped define orthodox Christianity for the better part of 2000 years," said Mcilwain.
"To see the creed abused in this way is extraordinarily disheartening, further distances our already troubled denomination from the Church Universal, exacerbates already existing tensions within the Church, and harms those affirming the creed by failing to faithfully teach and uphold one of the core essential doctrines of the Christian faith — the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity."
Since the 1980s, the UMC has pursued efforts to make their liturgy, hymns, and sermons more "gender inclusive," by removing or discouraging use of terms like "men" or referring to God with male pronouns.
Despite the trend, plenty of clergy and hymns in the official hymnal still refer to God in the masculine tense, and most UMC congregations use the Lord's Prayer, with its opening line "Our Father."
Furthermore, the UMC retains a traditional and an ecumenical version of the Apostles' Creed for official use, both of which identify God as "Father" and Jesus as "His Only Son."
"All ordained United Methodist clergy promise to faithfully uphold and teach the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity, which is shared and defined in Article 1 of our Articles of Religion; I fear that this edited creed represents a failure to be faithful to what The United Methodist Church believes," added Mcilwain.
Mcilwain also noted that, to his knowledge, his annual conference had never used an edited ancient creed for its worship or other events.