Updated: June 20, 2019 10:28 PM
Members of the United Methodist Churches in the state gathered for the annual conference in St. Cloud where hundreds made a vote on the future of LGBTQIA+ inclusion within the church.
Hundreds of members voted in adopting a vision that names a commitment to the full inclusion of the LQBTQIA+ people in the life of the church.
The vote took place Wednesday, members voted 491 to 86 for the adoption of the inclusive vision.
"We as a community are committed to offering full ministry for all people in ordination and in marriage and in all levels of participation in our United Methodist Church," Jeanine Alexander, the pastor for Duluth First United Methodist Church, said.
"We're making space for our churches to live into faithful ministry and say we want to be a church of open hearts, open mind, and open doors," Cindy Gregorson, the director of Connectional Ministries, said.
This comes four months after delegates voted in favor of the Traditional Plan which bans same-sex marriage and ordination of LGBTQ clergy at the church. The Traditional Plan, which takes effect in January 2020, also adds greater penalties for clergy who act against those rules.
"We as an annual conference are going to behave for inclusion regardless of the rules and so we will offer ordination to all qualifying people and we will offer the opportunity for marriage in our church too,” Alexander said.
The United Methodist Churches said they are committed to this vision of inclusivity. Alexander said the churches won’t take part in banning or punishing clergy or laity for being gay or for supporting the LGBTQ+ community.
"We are saying pastors out of your conscious should have the freedom to preside at marriages for people in their congregation. It creates a space for pastors to do that ministry," Gregorson said.
This vision will apply to all the United Methodist Churches in Minnesota.
Pastor Alexander said this is a vote the church is excited about.
"It means a lot to us at Coppertop Church because it gives affirmation to the ministry that we have already been doing. And I just want to extend a profound apology to the LGBTQ community who has been discriminated against," Alexander said.
Members also voted to adopt a resolution that responds to the Traditional Plan. The resolution formally recognizes that "The Traditional Plan does great harm to the witness of the United Methodist Church," and vows that "The Minnesota annual conference will not perpetuate this harm in any form."
Both of the resolutions adopted were submitted by an independent group called Minnesota Methodists, a grassroots movement of Minnesotans working toward the full inclusion of LGBTQIA+ people in the life of the church.
"We want to be a church that really offers that vision to the world about how we can all live together and welcome all in love," Gregorson said.
Although there's still some members of the church that aren't fully accepting of this.
"Twenty percent of the vote was against this means of inclusion so those people are hurting they too have voices that deserve to be heard," Alexander said.
The United Methodist general conference thats taking place in May 2020 will discuss the inclusive vision. Pastor Alexander said a separation from the United Methodist denomination is likely to happen, unless the rules change.
"There will likely still be a split but we in Minnesota right now are acting as though the restrictive rules are not in place," Alexander said.
The conference had 800 people representing the Minnesota United Methodist Churches. The conference took place from June 18 to June 20.
Updated: June 20, 2019 10:28 PM
Created: June 20, 2019 05:20 PM
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