The delegates also expanded Paragraph 2702, which contains items for which clergy may be charged. Delegates added “being a self-avowed practicing homosexual, conducting ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions and performing same-sex wedding ceremonies” to the list of offenses that might evoke a trial.
“The language speaks to the needs of our church at this time,” said Jon Gray, a delegate from Kansas City, Mo., and newly elected member of the denomination’s Judicial Council.
In a vote of 455-445, the delegates changed Paragraph 2702 to state: “A bishop, clergy member of an annual conference, local pastor, clergy on honorable or administrative location, or diaconal minister may choose a trial when charged (subject to the statute of limitations in 2702.4) with one or more of the following offenses: a) immorality, including but not limited to, not being celibate in singleness or not being faithful in a heterosexual marriage; b) practices declared by the United Methodist Church to be incompatible with Christian teaching, including but not limited to: being a self-avowed practicing homosexual; or conducting ceremonies which celebrate homosexual unions; or performing same-sex wedding ceremonies.”
You will find a large number of Methodists—likely still a minority in the denomination as a whole—who will concede that it’s just fine for the state to sanction homosexual unions. [I am one of those people.]
The number of Methodist laity who think that the church should sanction those unions is far, far smaller. [I am not in that minority.]
According to the Rev. Linda Campbell, New England Conference, it is important to be clear about every issue that is considered to be incompatible with Christian teaching. “Incompatible is incompatible,” she said.