United Methodist leaders are trying to avoid a church schism over gay rights.
“We have gay and lesbian people who are married,” says Adam Hamilton, senior pastor at the Church of the Resurrection in Leawood. “They have children. We welcome them. We’re not going to tell them they should get divorced and divide up the children. We’re going to say, ‘We’re glad you made a lifelong covenant.’”
But Hamilton acknowledges that his congregation, the largest of United Methodists in the United States, has many conservative members who believe marriage is between a man and a woman.
Same-sex marriage is one of the big questions church leaders from around the world are dealing with at the Methodist General Conference in Portland, Oregon, this week.
Hamilton says while more and more Americans are accepting, the United Methodist church is growing in many African countries where same-sex relationships are still criminalized.
“I’m concerned we’re going to lose one side of the church or the other,” Hamilton says. “I think the answer is we say, ‘This is what I believe, it’s OK that you believe what you believe.’”
For now, Hamilton thinks an appropriate compromise would be to allow individual ministers to make their own decisions about whether to marry same-sex couples.
Elle Moxley is a reporter for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.