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United Methodist Church lifts 40-year ban on LGBTQ clergy

Chris Carlson/AP

David Oliver, left, and David Meredith wipe away tears after the United Methodist Church voted to repeal the church’s ban on LGBTQ clergy, Wednesday, May 1, 2024.


The United Methodist Church on Wednesday reversed its 40-year ban on gay clergy, marking a historic shift in the church’s stance on homosexuality.

The church has long been factionalized over LGBTQ inclusion and has even considered splitting into two separate churches over the issue, CNN previously reported.

In 1984, the Church banned “self-described practicing homosexuals” from becoming clergy, and later added practicing or celebrating same-sex unions to “a list of prosecutable offenses,” according to a timeline . of the Church’s history with the LGBTQ community.

The Methodist community spent the next decades debating, fighting, and praying over its stance toward gay clergy and LGBTQ members. But Wednesday’s vote by the Church’s highest legislative body marked a historic shift toward acceptance and inclusion.

In a vote of 692-51, church leaders adopted several rules without debate, including overturning a ban on gay clergy and penalties for same-sex marriages, according to the United Methodist News Service. .

After the vote, retired United Methodist Bishop Hope Morgan Ward prayed that the church would be used as a “peacemaker and servant” and “welcome all people into the arms of God.”

According to the Methodist News Service, members applauded, cried and hugged each other after the vote.

“We’ve been doing this since the 70s and finally, in a few minutes without debate, it’s gone. And now we can get on with the business of the Church,” Marilyn Murphy, an observer at the South Carolina Church conference, told the press service.

LGBTQ advocates within the Church welcomed the decision.

Matt Patrick, co-pastor of the University United Methodist Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, told CNN he became emotional after the church announced the decision.

“I cried this morning when the vote was announced because it was a huge relief to see that justice had been done after so many years,” he said. “There was a lot of pain to get us to this place.”

Although the ban on gay clergy has been removed from the church’s bylaws, Patrick said work will continue to ensure the Methodist church is an inclusive place for all.

“Where we go from here, only God knows,” he said.

More changes are expected as the legislative conference continues in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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