Dear Harmony Congregation,
Since the 1970’s, members of the United Methodist Church have debated changing the language in the United Methodist Book of Discipline to allow for the ordination of openly gay and lesbian persons and for the marriage of same gender couples in United Methodist Churches by United Methodist clergy.
In 2024, at the UMC General Conference, delegates representing the global UMC will vote on changing the language in the Book of Discipline to allow for the ordination of openly gay clergy and the election of openly gay bishops, and to allow UMC clergy to marry same gender couples. This inclusiveness extends to all LGBTQ persons.
This would change the 1972 language the General Conference added to the Book of Discipline stating, “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching,” and that gay ministers and marriages are not allowed in their churches.
Any changes made to the Book of Discipline at the 2024 General Conference touches all United Methodist Churches. Some churches anticipating there will be a change to the Book of Discipline allowing for the ordination of LGBTQ individuals and the marriage of same gender couples have opted to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church. Other United Methodist churches have chosen a “wait and see” attitude. Still, other United Methodist Churches support these proposed changes to the Book of Discipline.
Knowing this decision will be before Harmony UMC at some time, on November 15, 2022, the Church Council formed a Task Force to review all aspects of the human sexuality issue and to make recommendations to the Church Council for moving forward.
A report detailing the work of the Task Force and its recommendations follows. Thank you for prayerfully studying this report.
For additional information, visit the link for the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church at www.vaumc.org.
Yours in Christ,
The Way Forward Task Force
Dave Nash, Steve Evick, Tom Gatewood, Susan Hubbuch, Merc Skaggs,
Pastor Debra Lucas, Robin Good