Minnesota United Methodist Church members take a stand against anti-LGBTQ policies

June 21, 2019 06:56 PM

United Methodist Church parishioners in Minnesota are taking a stand on an issue that's dividing the church. 

This week at the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, members voted to make the church more inclusive, voting to reject the church's long-standing policies involving LGBTQ members and clergy.

The move came after church delegates from around the world voted in February to keep bans on same-sex marriage and LGBTQ clergy in place in the church.

"It passed with such an overwhelming margin that it clearly is now a shared vision with the Minnesota Annual Conference," said Rev. Carol Zaagsma, who leads a church in Bloomington.

RELATED: United Methodist Church split over homosexuality

Zaagsma helped lead the charge that wrote the vision statement the membership adopted.

"There were so many people stunned by what happened," Zaagsma said of the February vote.

Her grassroots group, "Minnesota Methodists" spent weeks traveling the state talking with members of the church about what they wanted to see in the future.

"It was a way for Minnesota to take a stand and say that those actions were harmful," Zaagsma said.

Historically, the church has not allowed same-sex marriage. But this year, new restrictions and penalties on clergy were adopted at the global conference.

Bishop Bruce Ough said that was the catalyst for the movement happening in Minnesota.

RELATED: United Methodist delegates reject recognizing gay marriage

"Many of the basic elements of that plan were already in place, it was really more the attitude and the additional restrictions that sort of awakened the church in many places to say, wait a minute, this is not who we are," Ough said.

Other United Methodist conferences - from Tennessee to Michigan - have also taken a similar stance. But the rejections do not change the policies, rather make a statement against what they stand for.

"The LGBTQIA+ community is present in the Untied Methodist Church," Zaagsma said. "We're talking about people in our churches."

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Kirsten Swanson

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