Since 1972, the United Methodist Church has adopted a series of denominational laws which are adverse to LGBTQ people, saying that the practice of homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teachings,” prohibiting same-sex marriages by United Methodist clergy or in United Methodist facilities, and prohibiting gay and lesbian clergy. FUMC, on the other hand, has been affirming and extending Christian love to LGBTQ people since the 1980s. In 2000, the Adelphi Sunday School class became the first class in the country to affiliate with the Reconciling Ministries Network, and other classes followed suit. In 2013, FUMC itself became a Reconciling Congregation.
The Administrative Board has adopted resolutions supporting full inclusion and equality of LGBTQ people many times in the last dozen years. The Board has also submitted numerous petitions on LGBTQ issues to the last three quadrennial General Conferences of the United Methodist Church. However, none of the discriminatory provisions in the Book of Discipline has been repealed. Accordingly, the FUMC Administrative Board believes that the time has come for FUMC to consider action(s) to end discriminatory practices.
Believing that we should do more than simple advocacy, the FUMC Administrative Board appointed a committee to design a discernment process to seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance to address the conflict between these provisions of the Book of Discipline and our congregational commitment to full inclusion of all people in the life and ministry of this church.
Over the coming weeks, we will publish a number of essays and articles relating to this discernment process, including essays describing the effect of the current policies on members, an explanation of the Book of Discipline provisions, a theological discussion, and consequences of various options. After Easter, the congregation will be invited to participate in one or more Discussion Meetings during May and June in various formats, including “town hall” meetings at church, Sunday School sessions, and home gatherings. The Discussion Meetings will provide a safe forum for open dialogue about the options for FUMC to move toward full inclusivity of all people regarding marriage.
We ask you to carefully review and study this issue by reading the materials provided, reflect on them prayerfully, and be prepared to consider various options when our discussion meetings begin. In addition to the Discussion Meetings, we encourage your comments, questions, and ideas, whether general or specific through the comment form below, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by hand written comment cards available in the Narthex outside the sanctuary and the Family Life Center lobby.
Two-Part Discernment Town Halls
All are invited, either individually or as a Sunday school class, to attend one 2-part Sunday session from the dates below. The first part will take place during the Sunday school hour from 10:00 a.m.-10:45 a.m. and will consist of an overall briefing about issues that arise when UMC congregations strive for marriage equality. At 12:15 p.m., following the 11:00 a.m. worship service, a discussion open to questions, comments, and conversations will take place with lunch served prior to the second half of the meeting. The three meetings will cover the same materials and information.
Two-Part Discernment Town Hall
All are invited, either individually or as a Sunday school class, to attend one 2-part Sunday session from the dates below. Registration is required for lunch meetings. Click + to expand.
Smaller Gatherings Offsite
As an alternative to the larger town hall meetings, please join us for a smaller gathering to review and discuss marriage equality at FUMC. We will include a briefing about issues that arise when UMC congregations strive for marriage equality and discuss questions and comments about how FUMC can respond. We only have 15 spots for this session so please register now.
FAQs Plus Responses from Discernment Meetings (click to view pdf)
Read many of the frequently asked questions arising during the discernment discussions and responses as well as additional resources.
LGBTQ Persons, The United Methodist Church, and FUMC (click to view pdf)
Read the UMC denominational laws, part of the UMC Book of Discipline, which condemn homosexuality and otherwise discriminate against LGBTQ persons along with FUMC’s position to change these laws.
Theological Roots for our Discernment (click to view pdf)
Pastor Taylor Fuerst summarizes the theology behind FUMC’s support for inclusion and equality, using references to Scripture, historical Christian thought, and the United Methodist Book of Discipline. Further, she reflects on the theological meaning of the commitments we make to God, the Church, and one another.
What Are Other Churches Doing About Equality of Marriage (click to view pdf)
As FUMC seeks to discern how to move forward in reconciling our value of inclusivity with the United Methodist Church’s prohibition on conducting same-sex weddings, one obvious question is what other congregations who believe in inclusivity are doing. This article discusses that question based on the information we have, which we know does not include all congregations that are taking action.
Possible Consequences on Possible Actions Regarding Marriage Equality (click to view pdf)
Some have raised questions about the consequences for actions related to marriage equality. The discernment committee has provided a new article that highlights the actions that some churches have taken and the potential consequences for both clergy and laity.
Perspective from a Couple Married at FUMC (click to view pdf)
Kaycee Crisp reflects on her marriage in the FUMC Sanctuary and the significance of this experience while mourning the church’s policies that prevent same-sex couples from having equal rights.
Perspective from a Same-Sex Couple Not Married at FUMC (click to view pdf)
Davis Covin reflects on his recent marriage that took place outside the FUMC Sanctuary and the personal impact of the UMC’s discrimination.
Please submit your comments through our form below and a response will be provided by a member of the discernment team.