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Iowa’s United Methodist Church to allow same-sex weddings

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 23rd, 2022


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Iowa’s United Methodist Church took a big step toward becoming more inclusive and welcoming to its LGBTQ+ members. 

 

Following years of division and heated disagreements within the United Methodist Church (UMC) over LGBTQ+ rights, the Iowa Conference announced recently that individual churches will be allowed to decide their own positions on ‘same gender’ marriage.

 

In the Leading Now and Into the Future – Our Vision statement published in December of last year, leaders detailed this ‘one-church’ model with the hope of resolving long standing conflicts between the Conference’s traditional and liberal-leaning churches, by removing the “single standard that operates everywhere throughout the worldwide church.” (via IAUMC)

 

This new approach took effect on January 1, 2022. 

 

In the Conference’s Vision For the Future FAQs, which clarify the newly adopted position, leaders write: 

 

“We encourage every local church to do the ministry God is calling you to do, with the neighbors and people you actually have relationship with. 

 

… This plan allows for both congregational choice as well as clergy choice. If the church leadership decides that hosting same gender weddings is a faithful expression of the ministry of the congregation, then the appointed clergy may work with other trusted colleagues to make space for that ministry. 

 

No one will be compelled to act contrary to their conscience, conviction or understanding of scripture.  

 

…We also believe that the core of our problem is not so much whether our clergy marry or do not marry same-sex couples. Our larger problem is division and the damage that does to our character and connection. The Appointive Cabinet believes that we do not need to be afraid of a fully inclusive church. ” (via IAUMC)

 


This is good news. 

 

It means that any of the 767 churches within the Iowa Conference, serving 158,000 members, can now choose to host same-sex weddings. Those churches that want to be inclusive and affirming of their LGBTQ+ congregation members can be, despite the larger Church’s current discriminatory stance on homosexuality. 

 

(It’s also likely that if the United Methodist Church doesn’t approve of the Iowa Conference’s decision, the Conference may split from the Church as others have done.)

 

Related: Historic Groome Church splits from UMC over LGBTQ marriage and ordination

 

It also means that churches can choose to remain unaccepting of LGBTQ+ families, depending on their congregation and clergy’s conscience, convictions, and understanding of the doctrine. All churches are allowed to make their own decisions, and no church will be directed to go against the values of its ministry and congregation.

 

According to The Gazette, “the Iowa Conference will no longer process complaints about same-sex weddings or gay pastors who are not celibate,” suggesting that acceptance for openly-gay clergy members is also on its way.


Related: ‘Love Prevails’ LGBT group quits United Methodist Church in bold move

 


Get the full scoop in Elijah Decious’s article for The Gazette.

 


Currently, the UMC’s Book of Discipline and statements of faith contain several paragraphs regarding same-sex marriage and openly-gay clergy. 

 

Regarding ordination: 

 

“While persons set apart by the Church for ordained ministry are subject to all the frailties of the human condition and the pressures of society, they are required to maintain the highest standards of holy living in the world. The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.” (via UMC.org)

 

Regarding homosexuality: 

 

“While affirming belief that persons of homosexual orientation are persons of sacred worth who need the ministry and guidance of the church, the statement added that the church ‘does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching,’” drawing a distinction “between orientation and practice, or behavior.” (via UMC.org)

 

Regarding marriage: 

 

“Sexual relations are affirmed only within the covenant of monogamous, heterosexual marriage. The United Methodist Church supports laws that define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.” (via UMC.org)

 


Following this decision by the leaders of UMC’s Iowa Conference, member churches will no longer be required to uphold these outdated positions, but won't be forced to go against their theological convictions if they hold more conservative values. 

 


 

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