Recent UMC decision sparks debate among local church leaders and LGBTQ activists
JOHNSTOWN, Pa. (WJAC) —
A recent decision made by The United Methodist Church to continue its long-standing church bans on LGBTQ clergy and same-sex marriage is sparking a conversation in Central Pennsylvania, with some saying the decision is discriminating against a group of people.
The vote on changing church policy came about when United Methodist Church leaders proposed an amendment to their practice, allowing pastors to officiate same-sex marriage and allowing homosexuals to openly preach, during an international conference. Leaders also voted on a proposal that would allow individual churches to make their own decisions on the matter.
After 835 votes, the majority with over 56% of the vote, voted to keep the current teachings and rules of the church.
The Rev. Sung Chung says though homosexuals can't openly preach in the church, they are welcome to pray.
"By the Book of Discipline, we cannot ordain those homosexual people in clergy," Chung said, "but we welcome all those people in the church and they can participate in the life of the church."
However, for John DeBartola, who's president of the Keystone Alliance Gay Life Newsletter, the issue goes beyond The United Methodist Church, he says it is still a topic of conversation for other religious groups and says the only way change can come about is by having a face to face conversation about the decision.
"If they truly support the tenements that Jesus supported, the community see taught to them, the messages he taught, I ask them to look into their hearts and change their views."