United Methodists Update Teachings To Embrace Gay Clergy, Same-Sex Marriages

Members of St. John’s on the Lake Methodist Church at Miami Beach Pride in 2023. Photo via Facebook.

The United Methodist Church lifted its restrictions on gay clergy in a historic vote at last week’s national conference in Charlotte, N.C. 

Delegates voted 692-51 to repeal the church’s prohibition on gay clergy and strike language from UMC principles that categorize “the practice of homosexuality” as “incompatible with Christian teaching.” That statement had been on the books for 52 years. 

Pastor Kipp Nelson of St. John’s on the Lake in Miami Beach praised the denomination’s decision to become a more inclusive community. 

“We have now publicly proclaimed the boundless love of God and finally slung open the doors of our church so that all people, no matter their identities or orientations, may pursue the calling of their hearts,” said Nelson, who attended the conference. “Truly, all are loved and belong here among us.” 

On a 523-161 vote, delegates approved a new definition of marriage as a covenant between “two people of faith” acknowledging the couple may or may not involve a man and a woman. Measures were also passed that prevent clergy from being punished for performing or refusing to perform marriages. 

For Nelson, who was denied a promotion based solely on his sexual orientation, the change in social principles is a breakthrough moment. 

“It means I can love who I want to love, and I am free to continue my life’s calling,” he said. “It means I can continue cultivating spaces of love, affirmation and healing for so many others that have been harmed through similar experiences.”

Meanwhile, an exodus of congregations continues at UMC, currently the third-largest Christian denomination in the United States. More than 7,600 churches have left since 2019, when the denomination began to create spaces where “LGBTQIA+ people will be protected, affirmed and empowered.”


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