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The United Methodist Church Votes to Ban Same-Sex Marriage and LGBTQ Clergy

The United Methodist Church is now a church divided.

After three days of intense debate at a conference in Saint Louis, Mo., church officials and lay members voted to toughen prohibitions on same-sex marriage and banned LGBTQ people from being ordained.

LGBTQ Methodists and their allies have been pushing for the church to officially allow people of all gender identities or sexual orientations to be married and participate in church leadership for years.

The debate became even more urgent after the U.S. Supreme Court established same-sex marriage as a civil right in 2015.

According to Emma Green, a religion reporter for The Atlantic, “The denomination’s bishops, its top clergy, pushed hard for a resolution that would have allowed local congregations, conferences, and clergy to make their own choices about conducting same-sex marriages and ordaining LGBT pastors,” she reports. That proposal, called the One Church Plan, was designed to reflect the changing attitudes of the faithful around the world.

Instead, the UMC chose what has been called the Traditional Plan, which has strengthened the denomination’s teachings against homosexuality. “This is not a political or social kind of difference. It is primarily, for us, a theological difference, and the truth that the church has been raised up to share,” Keith Boyette, the head of the Wesleyan Covenant Association, tells Green. But he concedes, “I think there’s a lot of grief on all sides.”

Green’s excellent dispatch goes into more detail about the history and theology that informed the emotional debate and is well worth your time.

But it now seems inevitable that many individuals and progressive churches will be feel compelled to leave the denomination, which currently has twelve million members worldwide.

Some are already talking about a new alliance of gay-friendly churches. “It is time for another movement,” the Rev. Mike Slaughter, pastor emeritus of Ginghamsburg Church in Ohio, told The New York Times. “We don’t even know what that is yet, but it is something new.”

“Devastation,” former Methodist pastor Rebecca Wilson of Detroit told the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch. “As someone who left because I’m gay, I’m waiting for the church I love to stop bringing more hate.”

This wrenching testimony from J.J. Warren, a gay pastoral student, exemplified the emotion in the room before the final decision.

“As someone who has grown up in our church, as someone who is gay…my evangelism [on campus] has grown…They didn’t know God could love them because their churches said God didn’t.” His voice cracking, he beseeched, “We are the church together. This is the body of Christ and we are stronger together than we are apart. No plan to separate us can unite us like God’s love.”

In a two-part tweet, Rachel Held Evans author of Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water and Loving the Bible Again, offered the best advice I could find for anyone who is suffering over this decision for any reason.

“Grieving the loss of a church, or your place in it, can be as painful as grieving the loss of a loved one,” she said. “Sending love and prayers to all who are grieving that loss today. I’m so sorry. #GC2019.”

And then this: “Well-meaning friends from TEC, UCC, PCUSA, and other affirming denominations, now’s not the time to offer recommendations for leaving. Now’s the time to weep with those who weep. This is/was their church. Give people space to grieve.”

 

 

On Point

Former Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi joins the Amazon boardThere are now five women and two people of color currently serving on the online retailer’s 11-person board, a marked improvement from a year ago, when all of the then-10 directors were white; seven men and three women. The company added Starbucks COO Rosalind Brewer as a director in February, who became the second black woman ever to serve on Amazon’s board. Nooyi stepped down as Pepsi CEO in October, and gave up her seat on the board this month.Bloomberg

The Obamas’ production company has a new executive team
Higher Ground Productions, the company created by former president and first lady Barack and Michelle Obama, has a multi-year deal with Netflix, but so far, we’ve had little information other than they’re considering everything. (Think scripted and unscripted, series, documentaries…everything but video haikus, evidently.)  But now they have a staff: Priya Swaminathan, previously of Annapurna will join Tonia Davis of Chernin Entertainment as co-heads; they’ve also tapped Qadriyyah “Q” Shamsid-Deen, most recently of Ryan Murphy Television’s Half Initiative, which focused on elevating the careers of female directors. These women are amazing.
Variety

IBM apologizes for racist labels included in online job applications
It appears to be an embarrassing glitch. A drop-down menu associated with some U.S. based intern jobs asked applicants to choose among certain ethnic categories including “yellow” and “mulatto.” One applicant, a student from NYU, posted a photo of the application on Twitter, further appalled that he was forced to choose a designation to continue the application. The company quickly apologized and removed the offensive language, which had been “temporarily and inappropriately” solicited. Evidently, the questions came from local government classifications that are still used in Brazil and South Africa. Ouch.
Bloomberg

A Maryland state legislator apologizes for maybe using the N-word
A state legislator from Maryland was forced to apologize to her colleagues from the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland for allegedly using the n-word to describe a district in Prince George’s County. Del. Mary Ann Lisanti (D) was confronted by her colleagues for allegations that she explained to a white colleague who had been campaigning in “a nigger district.” The conversation happened during a late night meeting at a cigar bar, and although Lisanti apologized profusely, she says she doesn’t remember using the term. “I don’t recall that. . . . I don’t recall much of that evening,” she told The Washington Post.
Washington Post

 

On Background

A digital game that depicts what it’s like to work at an Amazon warehouse
This simple but compelling digital game was created by ABC News Story Lab in Melbourne, Australia, and it is a fascinating way to turn their reporting into a creative digital story. The game is based on interviews with eight current or former employees and it walks the player through a condensed version of their experiences, from training to, well, despair. Play it and weep.
ABC Australia

White schools get $23 billion more in funding than those that serve students of color
The math is simple but painful. Because school districts have long been drawn along lines that have been designed to favor white communities, predominantly white school districts receive $23 billion more in annual funding that districts that primarily serve kids of color. This is the finding of a new report from EdBuild, a nonprofit which studies the ways schools are funded in the U.S. More than half of U.S. students attend racially segregated schools in which three-quarters of the students are of a single race. “We have built a school funding system that is reliant on geography, and therefore the school funding system has inherited all of the historical ills of where we have forced and incentivized people to live,” says Rebecca Sibilia, the founder and CEO of EdBuild.
NPR

Men and women use cities very differently so we should design them that way
Since most humans live in or near cities, it seems like a fairly important question: What do you use public transportation for? When Vienna asked the question in 1999, they got very different answers. Men went to work and came home. Women, however, used transportation for a wide variety of things, including shuttling kids, helping aging parents with errands, going to various appointments and the like. The answers led to some important design changes – like wider pavements and ramps – but lead to a bigger question. Why don’t we do a better job assessing how planning and policy decisions will specifically affect men and women?
FastCoExist

Quote

Lovelessness is a huge sin in the church. The four primary personalities in the New Testament- Jesus, Paul, Peter, and John- all four of them say that love is the most important thing. But the only time love really counts is when something unlovely happens.
—Jeff Chu