The Pope Said That… So What?


This week has been very eventful, but it’s only Tuesday. Yesterday, Pope Francis affirmed LGBTQ+ identities reportedly saying that God made no mistakes when humans were made. LGBTQ+ are made in God’s image. It’s something I’ve believed since I became Christian, and I think most people believe that. But, to hear a large figure head of one of the world’s largest religions to affirm that is powerful. But, what does that mean for the rest of us non-Catholics?
It means we have work to do. We have bridges to build, and we have hurt to apologize for.

The Church as done some good things for LGBTQ+ Christians. We have come leaps and bounds over the last few years as a whole body. We’re welcoming, we’re loving, and we have even begun to affirm LGBTQ+ identities, but we still have areas for growth.

Disciples of Christ have fully integrated all LGBTQ+ identities into the full life of the Church. United Church of Christ have also done that. There are some nondenominational churches following in these footsteps. In Nashville, Gracepointe Church was one of the first evangelical churches to fully embrace and affirm LGBTQ+ Christians (see this Time Magazine article from January 2015 for when they came out and affirmed).

In the United Methodist Church, we have reached a point of friction. In the 2016 General Conference for the world-wide church, the bishops to start a commission forcomplete examination and possible revision of every paragraph of the Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality and explore options that help to maintain and strengthen the unity of the church.” It also called for a special general conference in 2019 to see their proposal. This past week or so, the Commission on a Way Forward presented three different options and recommended one, which the Council of Bishops approved for voting next year. 

The One-Church Model, which is the recommended plan, has two variations. 

  • The One-Church Model gives conferences, churches, and pastors the flexibility they need in their ministry. So churches under this model could believe anything they want pretty much, but it could be controlled by conferences.
  • The One-Church Branched Model creates three conferences of the UMC, each holding different values and allows one Council of Bishops and governing body over the three.
This plan offers some hope for the church, but no matter what there will be hurt feelings and calls for specific churches to leave the conference. I truly hope and pray that God is present as the Church begins to work through these transitions.
With these transitions, I hope the Church remembers who these decisions are affecting. These decisions will affect thousands of lives all across the world. I will be a breaking point for some no matter which way it goes. I pray that the UMC will follow in the Pope’s foot steps and begin affirming what God has already made “good.”
LGBTQ+ persons are often pushed to the side and discounted in their worth and value to institutions, but let me tell you, there are so many talented and gifted persons in the community that the Church can benefit immensely from. God has worked in so many of our lives and called us to bear witness to His great works. Will the church affirm us and the calls on our lives? Let’s hope so.
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