Friday, July 11, 2008
This is from the United Methodist News Service:
California United Methodists react to same-sex ruling (UMNS)
By Marta W. Aldrich
On the heels of a California Supreme Court ruling that opened the door to same-gender unions, two United Methodist legislative bodies in California have approved gay-friendly statements that are stretching the denominational promise of "open hearts, open doors, open minds."
The church's California-Pacific Annual Conference, convening June 18-22 in Redlands, approved three measures that support same-gender couples entering into the marriage covenant. Each "encourages both congregations and pastors to welcome, embrace and provide spiritual nurture and pastoral care for these families," according to a June 27 letter to the conference from Bishop Mary Ann Swenson and other conference leaders.
That same week in Sacramento, the California-Nevada Annual Conference approved two measures on the same issue, including one that lists 67 retired United Methodist clergy in northern California who have offered to conduct same-gender marriage ceremonies. The resolution commends the pastors' work in offering continued ministry.
The statements are the strongest yet on the issue by California United Methodists and have drawn cheers from gay rights advocates, who say the church and its pastors should extend to same-sex couples the same level of support it provides heterosexual couples. Others say the conferences are on the verge of breaking a Scripturally based covenant with the rest of the 11.5 million-member worldwide denomination.
The United Methodist Church, while affirming all people as persons "of sacred worth," considers the practice of homosexuality "incompatible with Christian teaching." Its policy book, called the Book of Discipline, prohibits its pastors and churches from conducting ceremonies celebrating homosexual unions. The denominational statements were affirmed last spring during split votes by General Conference, the church's top legislative body. The assembly, which met April 23-May 2, convenes every four years and represents United Methodists worldwide.
That same month, California's high court overturned a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, making California and Massachusetts the only U.S. states to allow gay couples to marry. California began to issue licenses June 16. For more on this story, log on to http://www.umc.org/site/apps/nlnet/content3.aspx?c=lwL4KnN1LtH&b=2433457&ct=5661893.