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Published On: Wed, Jun 11th, 2014

Methodist leaders head to Florida, gay marriage and homosexuality a hot topic

United Methodist Church leaders will gather in Florida today to discuss church business including the highly divided top of  the church’s stance on homosexuality.
  
photo  Julyo based on work by Gilbert Baker, 1979 via wikimedia commons

photo Julyo based on work by Gilbert Baker, 1979 via wikimedia commons

The issue has been an area of discussion in the denomination for a decade, but recent events have lead some members fearing a split in the church over the doctrine.

 
“It’s distressing to me that we’re still focusing on minor issues, same-sex, homosexuality,” said Rev. John Hill of the Suntree United Methodist Church. “Others many feel different, but the real issues the Jesus called us to confront are feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and not necessarily this issue. It’s maybe important but not essential.”
 
Hill is one of hundreds of pastors who signed a petition urging the church to remain unified and respect others’ opinions on homosexuality reports USA Today
 
Not all Methodists pastors agree, however, In May, 80 pastors held a meetings which led to a call for a split. 
 
“We need to recognize the reality that we — laity, clergy and even the Council of Bishops — are divided and will remain divided. Talk of a ‘middle way’ or of ‘agreeing to disagree’ is comforting and sounds Christ-like. However, such language only denies the reality we need to admit. Neither side will find ‘agreeing to disagree’ acceptable,” the pastors wrote in a letter to the denomination. 
 
One proposal, “A Way Forward,” offers churches and regional bodies the option to make up their own minds on such issues as affirming gay clergy and same-sex marriage.

“I experience United Methodists by and large as people who live in the middle. I think they are intelligent and loving, and I think they have the ability to live in community even if they disagree over the issue of same sex marriage and the ordination of people who are gay,” said the Rev. Tom Berlin of Floris United Methodist Church in Herndon, Va., a prominent signer of the proposal. “Like your family, you can disagree but not break up over it. The issue of homosexuality seems to have an unusual hold over America and in particular the church in America.”

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