The Seventh-day Adventist Church is not the only church struggling with issues of sexuality and church doctrine. An article from Religion News Service reports that a group of 80 pastors from the United Methodist Church, the second-largest Protestant denomination in the US, says a split in the church is imminent. The story, by Sarah Pulliam Bailey, quotes one pastor as saying that a schism has already taken place, and that there is little reason to think reconciliation is possible.
According to Religion News Service:
The issue is especially heightened within Methodism, where holiness—the beliefs and practices toward Christian purity—is foundational in its theology. And as Methodist membership plateaus at home and grows in parts of Africa, overseas delegates have helped hold the line against growing pressure to liberalize church policy on gay clergy and same-sex marriage.
Amid a wave of open defiance over rules that prevent pastors from presiding at same-sex marriages, and a host of high-profile church trials that have largely upheld church policy, some UMC pastors say the 11.8 million-member church has reached an impasse. Many feel that the sexuality debates simply touch on larger issues of how Methodists understand Scripture and how leaders uphold church teaching.
Later this month, former Methodist pastor Frank Schaefer, will be appealing a sentence finding him guilty of violating church law when he officiated at his son's 2007 wedding. If you think this sounds familiar, perhaps you are remembering Highland View Academy chaplain Brett Hadley, who lost his job after he participated in the same-sex wedding of his stepdaughter.
Methodist minister Schaefer was told he could keep his clergy credentials if he recanted his support of gay marriage, but he refused.
Methodist Bishop Martin D. McLee of New York announced in March he would drop a case against a retired seminary dean who officiated at his gay son’s 2012 wedding and called for an end to church trials for clergy who violate the denomination’s law on ministering to gays.
This was a tipping point for many conservative Methodists, the article states.
Hailing from the UMC’s five jurisdictions, the group of 80 pastors and theologians released a statement on May 22 outlining the crisis they see emerging within the UMC. They pointed to pastors who violated the Book of Discipline, a lack of subsequent punishment, a crisis over the authority of Scripture and differences in how leaders are teaching the practice of holiness.
With 19 US states now allowing same-sex marriage, many churches are grappling with this issue. It is instructive for Adventists to realize that other churches are dealing with similar issues, and to watch how other churches resolve them.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6031