You might have heard about the United Methodist Church decision this past week to maintain their traditional view that homosexuality is sinful. They said, "The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore self-avowed practising homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church", and they voted to say that no United Methodist minister or church could be involved in a gay marriage.
We would like to say three things as the leaders of Melrose:
- We are a Methodist church, but we are not part of the UMC. We are a member of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, which is not aligned with the UMC. Their decision does not apply to us.
- The MCSA is currently in a process of evaluating its position on LGBTQI issues. The MCSA has instructed local churches and societies to spend time speaking, praying and engaging on the issue. No decision has yet been made, and so the current MCSA official position is that gay marriages cannot take place in official Methodist church buildings. But the MCSA has gay ministers, some of whom are in long term partnerships and this is OK. And MCSA churches welcome LGBTQI people with open arms to be part of our churches. We are part of a denomination that is on a journey on this issue.
- At Melrose church, we want to go further than this. We want to be a church that does not merely open our doors to “allow” LGBTQI people to feel welcome in our church - we want to go further. We want to be a church that does not merely affirm and support our LGBTQI brothers and sisters as they find, worship and follow Jesus as their Saviour - we want to go further. We affirm today that we believe that they are created by God in His image, and we want to support and disciple them to fully express who they are as God’s children.
We do not stand by the decision of the UMC this past week. That is not our position on the status of our LGBTQI brothers and sisters. We say today to all the LGBTQI people in our congregation and in our faith community: we love you, we see you, we affirm you, and we know that God created you to be who you are. You are welcome here.