Friday, August 9, 2013

Struggle for Gay Welcome and Inclusion in United Methodist Churches: A Report from the Ground, Tampa, Florida

The struggle about justice and inclusion, about love and compassion for those who are made gay by God, is hardly confined to the Catholic church, by the way. For a gripping (and painful) report about this struggle within a single United Methodist congregation--Palma Ceia UMC in Tampa, Florida--read John Masters's recent posting at his Deep Something blog site. John has been a United Methodist for 54 years, and has been working patiently and assiduously in recent years to help his Palma Ceia church fashion a truly hospitable space for gay people seeking a church home.

As his report indicates, he and others in the church had thought they'd made headway when Palma Ceia crafted a welcome statement agreeable to all sides in the debate about gay inclusion (or exclusion), and published it to its website. The statement read,

We affirm that worship and membership at Palma Ceia United Methodist Church is open to all who seek to know Christ and share His love, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation or economic status, and we welcome and respect all members of our community without regard to these characteristics.

And now, along comes a new pastor for the church, and the statement has vanished from the Palma Ceia website. For the rest of the story, I encourage you to read John's well-written account--written from a place of struggle, since, as he concludes, after 54 years as an active United Methodist, he feels more inclined than ever in his life to leave his church now. 

But, as he also says, he's hard-headed. And so . . . .  

No comments: