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Tampa Bay United Methodist clergy to defy the Church’s LGBTI ban

Tampa Bay United Methodist clergy to defy the Church’s LGBTI ban

The sign outside Allendale's UMC, apologizing to the LGBTI community on behalf of the Church

On 26 February, international delegates from the United Methodist Church voted to uphold bans on the LGBTI community. This included rejecting a proposal which would allow regional church bodies to decide whether or not to ordain members of the LGBTI community and perform same-sex weddings. Additionally, they upheld a ‘Traditional Plan’ which would penalize clergy people who break these rules.

However, the Church’s Tampa Bay clergy have vowed to defy this LGBTI ban.

Tell Me More

According to Tampa Bay Times, following the conference, clergymen in Florida had their own ideas for how the Tampa Bay congregation will respond.

‘This outcome is a profound disappointment to many of us who were pushing for greater justice and equality,’ Rev. Magrey deVega, senior pastor at Hyde Park United Methodist Church in Tampa, wrote in a 27 February letter to his congregation.

‘A lot of tears have been falling. We weep together, among the LGBTQ persons who are stunned, saddened, and harmed by this news,’ he continued. ‘We weep among the thousands of young clergy and laity in our denomination who are angered and disillusioned.’

History of defying the Church

Rev. Andy Oliver of Allendale United Methodist Church in St. Petersburg, Florida told Tampa Bay Times that churches in the United States have long defied the Church’s LGBTI policies and this will not change.

‘Clergy like myself have been openly officiating same-sex marriages,’ he said. ‘The church calls us, when we see laws that are unjust, to dissent. So I have been practicing that at the risk of losing my orders.’

He added that the majority of American delegates at the conference supported the change. Additionally, he says, the Traditional Plan may soon be deemed unconstitutional by the Church’s judicial body.

‘The entire Western region of the church declared at the end of the conference they will continue to ignore the church’s discriminatory laws.’

‘We are not leaving,’ he stated. ‘The conservative faction of the church, even before the conference, said they did want to leave. So what did pass was an exit plan which may open the door for some churches to leave and form their own denomination.’

Still, Oliver worries about the implications of the vote to uphold the Traditional Plan.

‘The immediate effect is the harm done to the LGBTQ community and specifically children and youth,’ he said. ‘These are the kids that are at the highest risk for suicide and when a young person is sent the message that they are not loved by God that has life and death implications.’

Anything else?

Oliver’s Allendale United Methodist Church took out a full-page ad in the Tampa Bay Times. In the ad, they apologize to the LGBTI community on behalf of the Church.

See Also:

United Methodist Church appoints first transgender deacon

The Methodist Church fires pastor for officiating a lesbian wedding

Methodist church’s highest court rejects first openly lesbian bishop