WASHINGTON — Responding to votes by leaders of the United Methodist Church that called homosexual relations “incompatible with Christian teaching,” forbade ordination of openly gay or lesbian clergy and prohibited same-sex union ceremonies, members of Dignity/USA expressed sorrow, and pledged to stand with their Methodist brothers and sisters who work for change in the church policy.
Leaders of Dignity/USA, the nation’s leading advocate for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics, said they understood the sense of rejection gay and lesbian Methodists would be experiencing. “To have leaders and members of your own church brand you as somehow bad, wrong and unworthy is a very painful thing,” said Mary Louise Cervone, president of Dignity/USA. “In this case, it must have been especially hard, because there were openly gay people and supporters in the room, face to face with the people voting against them.”
“It is very disappointing that the Convention chose to take a hard line stance, one that will inevitably wound many of its members deeply,” stated Dignity’s executive director Marianne Duddy.
“Ensuring that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are treated with dignity, respect and a recognition of our equal status as children of God should be a major concern of all religious communities,” Cervone continued. “While this vote of the Methodist leaders represents a temporary setback, it renews our commitment to challenge incomplete theologyand dynamic, evolving issues of faith.”
Duddy cited previous joint efforts between Dignity/USA and Methodists who believe gay people should be able to be open in the church, including joint publication of a Bible study guide on homosexuality. The two groups will also both participate in a conference this summer focused on outreach to the gay community by mainstream churches.
“All of us who struggle to remain faithful within our denominations have witnessed both heartache and triumph in this fight,” said Duddy. “This is a moment of heartache for our Methodist sisters and brothers. But because we all believe in Christ’s resurrection, in the triumph of life over death, we have the faith to work for the time when we can be open, when gay and lesbian people called to ministry can freely serve, and when all churches affirm commitments between same-sex couples. We cannot see that day now, but we know it will come.”