United Methodist Church will no longer condemn homosexuality, Minnesota churches react

United Methodist Church will no longer condemn homosexuality, Minnesota churches react

United Methodist Church will no longer condemn homosexuality, Minnesota churches react

Minnesota churches are reacting to a major decision by the United Methodist Church to no longer condemn homosexuality.

The denomination is holding its General Conference in Charlotte this week, which is a gathering of church leaders from all over the world, held every four years.

On Wednesday, delegates voted overwhelmingly to remove a 40-year ban on the ordination of gay clergy and to allow same-sex weddings if a church chooses to perform them.

Then Thursday, they decided to eliminate a phrase in their Social Principles, which said that “the practice of homosexuality… is incompatible with Christian teaching.”

“I always believed that this day would come,” said Becky Sechrist, pastor at Minnehaha United Methodist Church in Minneapolis.

Sechrist has never openly shared with her congregation that she is married to a woman.

“You put your credentials at risk by doing it,” Sechrist explained. “I had to cross my fingers at my ordination vows because I was asked if I could uphold the discipline and I knew I couldn’t.”

She has been watching the livestream of the conference this week and was surprised to see changes to their Book of Discipline addressing the LGBTQ community.

“I just burst into tears. I thought, ‘Oh my gosh. I can’t believe this actually just happened.’ It was amazing to feel that weight get lifted,” Sechrist said.

There was applause after Wednesday’s vote, followed by hundreds of people singing hymns, such as ‘Draw the Circle Wide’ and ‘Child of God.’

“This is a very big deal,” said Cindy Gregorson, clergy assistant to the bishop. “That the whole church was able to come together and make this commitment to say, ‘This is who we’re called to be as a church’ is really significant.”

Gregorson said the Minnesota delegates have been fighting for these changes for a long time.

The UMC doubled down on restrictions for LGBTQ clergy and weddings during their last General Conference in 2019.

After that, the Minnesota Annual Conference took its own actions, saying they would not file charges against gay clergy.

“It’s been a long, long, hard road to say, ‘We want to be a church that we’ve always said we are, a church of open hearts, open minds, open doors and to actually put that into policy and practice,'” Gregorson said.

Sechrist plans to share her personal story with her church during her sermon on Sunday.

“I’ve never fully told my whole story of how I was called into ministry because it involves also coming out, so I’ve never put those two together before. I plan to do so this Sunday,” Sechrist said.

And she hopes this can be the start of a new chapter.

“Even as someone who has been fighting for the rule change, I’ve hated that that’s how we’ve spent our time,” she said. “The stuff we want to be working on is more than just who’s welcome at the table. Let’s make everybody welcome and then let’s work to solve other issues in the world.”

There are more than 300 United Methodist Churches in Minnesota, with more than 50,000 members.