Queer United Methodists’ Uncertain Future

“It was the betrayal with a kiss,” the Reverend Alex da Silva Souto said last Thursday. Days earlier, the United Methodist Church voted to reinforce its official ban on the ordination of openly LGBT clergy and the solemnization of same-gender weddings at a special General Conference convened to consider the matter. For da Silva Souto, who is openly queer, his church’s decision had painful ramifications. “It was the confirmation that there’s no chance that this denomination can go on with the structure that we currently have,” he said. “That the General Conference will never get to a place where the affirmation and protection of LGBTQI individuals will be a reality. The system as it’s designed will not allow for that.”

Da Silva Souto, who served as a co-convener of the United Methodist Queer Clergy Caucus until recently, told New York that he and others had been trying to change the church from within, a risky proposition even before the conclusion of last week’s General Conference. Queer clergy already occupied a precarious position within the UMC. Since 1972, the UMC’s Book of Discipline, which functions like a constitution, has “affirmed” sexual relations “only with the covenant of monogamous, heterosexual marriage.” Some regional conferences of the church, however, are more liberal, and have ordained openly LGBT clergy and permitted same-sex weddings in defiance of church law. In some cases, these acts of defiance led to church trials. Read more via New York Magazine