Methodist panel upholds LGBTQ bans

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(Photo from Pixabay)

(Photo from Pixabay)

NEW YORK — The United Methodist Church’s Judicial Panel upheld parts of a plan that bans LGBTQ clergy and weddings last week.

The Associated Press reported on Friday that conservatives welcomed the decision while liberal and centrist opponents of the plan were dismayed.

The UMC voted during a February meeting in St. Louis, turning down a plan called One Church that would have put LGBTQ issues to individual churches. The conservative plan that was voted for in February and upheld last week is the Traditional Plan. It could take effect in January.

The news service reported that a nine-member panel meeting in Evanston ruled that some of the aspects of the Traditional Plan, mostly with enforcement, were unconstitutional. But they upheld most of the plan.

It could be overturned at the UMC’s next general conference in May 2020, according to the AP. But Lambrecht said he agreed with other analysts who predict the UMC’s conservative bloc will be even stronger then. A coalition of Traditional Plan opponents, called UMC-Next have been talking about the next steps, including leaving the denomination. Progressive congregations, including some in Illinois, have already protested the new plan by withholding contributions and flying Pride flags at churches.

Under the rules, bishops are banned from ordaining “self-avowed homosexuals,” while clergy who perform same-sex weddings could be suspended without pay for the first offense and ousted from the ministry if they do it a second time. The ruling also established that churches could leave the UMC if two-thirds of a congregation agrees and financial requirements are met.

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