Kansas City-area United Methodist congregations have denounced their church’s vote to prohibit LGBT clergy and same-sex marriages. Clergy and lay leaders voted Tuesday at the United Methodist Church’s General Conference in St. Louis to reaffirm this ban, called the Traditional Plan.
This plan defeated the One Church plan, which progressive congregations hoped would allow the church to reach a compromise on LGBT issues. Under One Church, local pastors and regional conferences would decide how their congregations would approach LGBT clergy and same-sex marriage.
The vote will not take effect until next year. Opponents say that it violates the Church’s constitution and that they plan to challenge it.
But if those challenges are unsuccessful, pastors in the Kansas City metro have said that they would consider leaving to form a new denomination.
Rev. Adam Hamilton, who leads the 22,000-member Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, is one of those pastors. He calls himself “conservative theologically,” but “more progressive when it comes to issues of social justice and inclusion.”
“I don’t want to (leave this denomination) if there’s a way to correct things in our own denomination but as it stands I don’t think that’s possible,” he said. He added that some are concerned that this vote is akin to the 1979 fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Church. “The question is if this got approved here, what else might be on the horizon that could be approved.”
At Platte Woods UMC, Rev. Steve Breon, who like Hamilton describes himself as a traditionalist, was also disappointed. He said that as far as he knows most local congregations are opposed to the Traditional Plan.
“I would not know of any in the area that I would feel that would (vote for the plan),” said Breon.
Each of these pastors emphasized that most U.S. congregations oppose the Traditional Plan, but that delegations from Europe, Asia and Africa, which make up about 40 percent of the church worldwide, contributed to the Traditional Plan’s majority.
At First UMC Blue Springs, Rev. Dr. Sally Haynes acknowledged that even within her congregation, members may have felt differently about the vote.
“I know there are many in my church who join me in mourning this decision, and I imagine that there are some who rejoice at it. So we will keep worshipping together and loving one another and working together to see what the best future is,” Haynes said.
Correction: A quote was removed from the pastor of Trinity Family Midtown Church of the Nazarene, which is not a United Methodist congregation.