Changes made to the Book of Discipline 

Rev. Sue Ostrom   -  

Last Saturday at the Reconciling Ministries gathering for Clark County United Methodist Churches we discussed the changes made to the Book of Discipline by the General Conference.  That Conference eliminated language that forbids the ordination of gay clergy.  It opened the way for pastors to officiate at and churches to host same sex weddings, at their discretion.  It removed the words that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.  These were big changes.  They basically take the United Methodist Church to neutral language regarding human sexuality.

Some have asked, given these changes, why we need reconciling ministries now that the denomination has changed its stance.  The best answer I’ve heard came from Pastor Byron Harris (Vancouver Heights UMC) who said, “The General Conference changes are like Abraham Lincoln issuing the Emancipation Proclamation.”  If you know your history, you will remember that the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves, but it did not bring full justice.  Formerly enslaved people were still subject to discrimination and poverty.  Jim Crow laws emerged which reinforced such discrimination.  And even though Jim Crow laws have been abolished, African Americans still experience higher rates of poverty, incarceration, and other forms of discrimination.

It is one thing to change a law.  That is a necessary first step.  And changing laws does not change lives.  Still before us are the adaptive changes of attitude and heart.  As a Reconciling Church, Mill Plain seeks to continue to learn and grow in our understanding of the challenges which face the LGBTQIA+ community, and the gifts they can bring to us.