While the headline and article “The Methodist Church in Michigan – not the best place for gays” in the Dec. 23 BTL was accurate, it left a few crucial things unsaid. And that gave a wrong impression.
I have been a life-long member of the United Methodist Church and I’m well acquainted with the church’s stance against homosexuals. I’ve followed the General Conferences that meet every four years and wrestle with the issues of gay clergy each time. I’m well aware of the recent trial in which Beth Stroud was defrocked and that the Michigan bishop is called upon to uphold church law no matter his personal feelings. Yes, the United Methodist Church has troubling policy towards gay pastors. Even so, I felt your article didn’t catch the whole story.
The article says that the Methodist Church is not the best place for gays. However, it didn’t make the distinction between regular gay members and gay pastors. There are many UM Churches that welcome gay members, the most prominent one in this area is Central United Methodist Church beside Comerica Park.
In saying that United Methodists have a problem with gay pastors ignores that most denominations have the same problem, including Roman Catholics, Southern Baptists, and Presbyterians. This is an issue nearly all denominations struggle with. That is why I decided to stay in my home denomination, in spite of this issue. If I’m going to work to change minds on this issue, I might as well do it at home.
Even though this year’s General Conference closed many loopholes (which had allowed Karen Damman to keep her pastor credentials last spring), the core principle against gays was reaffirmed by a much smaller percentage – 54 percent this year compared to 64 percent four years ago. There is hope.