California United Methodists Support Marriage

Timothy Kincaid

July 10th, 2008

Highland Boulevard is a major street running through Hollywood. And due to a bend in the road between the Kodak Theater and the Hollywood Bowl, those drivers heading north have centered in their windshield the tower of the Hollywood United Methodist Church adorned with a twenty foot high red AIDS ribbon.

This symbol, now a landmark in Hollywood, went up when many others who claim Christianity as their private domain had rejected and demonized those who were afflicted by HIV and AIDS. Fifteen years later, it tells the many thousands of commuters who pass by that this Christian congregation in its beautiful traditional sactuary remains committed to the words that the denomination has adopted, “open hearts, open minds, open doors”.

And this body of believers, a Reconciling Congregation that marches in the Gay Pride parade, appears to be representative of the UMC churches in the state. While national church considers homosexuality to be “incompatible with Christian teaching” and rules prohibit the UMC churches or ministers from conducting same-sex marriages, the California Methodists are declaring their defiance of these rules and their support and welcome of gay couples.

A United Methodist News Service article, via the Dallas Morning News, reports

The church’s California-Pacific Annual Conference [Southern California], 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 [Northern California] 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.

A Guardian article places the number of Northern California retired UMC Ministers offering to perform same-sex weddings at 82. By congregations declaring their support for the retired ministers, they can express their support for gay couples without the threat of having their active pastor defrocked.

The Southern California conference also voted to oppose Proposition 8, the anti-gay marriage amendment.

The support of the state’s United Methodists is most welcome. As more houses of worship declare their opposition to exclusionary political efforts, this debate becomes less a battle between the Holy and the Profane and becomes better understood as an effort by a few to introduce discrimination into the state’s constitution.


July 10th, 2008

Thanks for this one! As a gay member of the United Methodist Church it is good to see when one of our churches or conferences does the right thing. There is one small correction: the denomination slogan is, “Open Hearts, Open MINDS, Open Doors.”

Timothy Kincaid

July 10th, 2008

Thanks Paul. It’s fixed


July 11th, 2008

Too bad the denomination as a whole doesn’t live up to their empty words. These congregations are the exceptions to the rule of the national church.

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