Members of Minnesota's United Methodist Church voted to commit to full inclusion of LGBT people. The move Wednesday was in response to the position of the denomination's global conference to maintain rules against officiating at same-sex unions and gay ordination.
Nearly 800 Minnesota United Methodists — both clergy and laity — were at the River's Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud this week for their annual conference.
The Minnesota Methodists' resolution counters a February vote from the global General Conference to keep a so-called "Traditional Plan" that maintains the denomination's long-standing rules against same-sex marriages and ordination of LGBT members. The vote by the global conference was 53 percent in favor and 47 percent opposed.
The Minnesota Annual Conference released a statement explaining its resolution as a "vision" that "expresses a commitment to value, amplify, and center marginalized voices in denominational and local church conversations — and to affirm each clergyperson's prayerful discernment about whether to officiate same-sex weddings."
Bishop Bruce R. Ough serves as the resident bishop of the Dakotas-Minnesota Episcopal Area.
Ough said the state vote passed with 85 percent support.
"This statement is an attempt to clarify we are orthodox in our beliefs and inclusive in our understanding of God's grace being available to all persons," Ough said.
Hamline Church Senior Pastor Mariah Tollgaard said the resolution sends a clear message that all Minnesotans should feel welcome in the state's Methodist churches.
"People really want to let it be known that we are not the church that was depicted at the general conference a few months ago, but that we are a church of welcome and love."
An overview of February's global conference on the global United Methodist Church's website says the group wants to clarify that LGBT people have not been banned.
"The United Methodist Church acknowledges that all persons are of sacred worth. All persons without regard to race, color, national origin, status, or economic condition, shall be eligible to attend its worship services, participate in its programs, receive the sacraments, upon baptism be admitted as baptized members, and upon taking vows declaring the Christian faith, become professing members in any local church in the connection," the post read.
The post goes on to say, "We acknowledge, however, that many LGBTQIA people, their loved ones and allies were hurt by the speeches, rhetoric and decisions of the General Conference. We pray for healing and forgiveness."
The February vote also focused on ordination of LGBT clergy and how to resolve issues when a clergy violates the Church's human sexuality stances by officiating a same-sex marriage.
The Methodist church provided guidelines for congregations that wish to leave the denomination "for reasons of conscience" regarding issues of human sexuality.
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