St. John's dissents from Methodist LGBT vote

St. John's dissents from Methodist LGBT vote

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

The United Methodist denomination is upholding its opposition to same-sex marriage and LGBT clergy. It is a part of the "traditional plan" that has been dividing Methodists for years. 

In 1998, Saint John's United Methodist Church here in Lubbock chose to affiliate with the Reconciling Ministries Networks. This means the church would advocate for inclusive changes. It is standing by its vow and dissenting the recent national vote. 

Now, members of the church are calling for others to stand up for change. Ben Finlayson came out to his family when he was 19. 

"I remember quite vividly my parents just crying," Finlayson said.

Finlayson said his parents were fearful of the path their son would go down. One that at many times leads to hatred and discrimination. But what Finlayson did not realize, it would test his own faith.

"When I was told I that even though I had been at that church for almost 23 years at that time, since birth, that they would not consider me for a position, that kinda rocked my boat," Finlayson said. 

He then found St. John's, a congregation not only welcoming LGBTQIA members, but cherishing them. Shiloh Morris is a youth and student pastor and the recent vote has Morris concerned. 

"It definitely was shock, kind of disgust in a way," Morris said. "Fear for friends who were in ministry also and those who are in churches because it literally threw up so many things in the air." 

Finlayson said the decision could also affect the movement against conversion therapy.

"Unfortunately, the United Methodist Church has put a tarnish on how we stand against those practices because were still saying there's something morally wrong with these individuals and there is not," Finlayson said.

But allies and church leaders like Elyse Kahler are not going to stay silent.

"God calls us to love each other as we would love ourselves," Kahler said. "So I believe that what Jesus teaches us is to be opening and accepting and love all of our siblings and friends in Christ." 

St. John's statement of dissent:

"We dissent. The recent decisions made by our global denomination do not represent us. St. John’s UMC Lubbock values equality and full inclusion. We welcome and celebrate LGBTQ+ persons and will continue to advocate for justice throughout the Church and society."

Statement after General Conference:

"We are deeply saddened by the results of the Special Session of the General Conference of the United Methodist Church. We firmly believe in and affirm the sacred worth of all of God’s children of all gender identities and sexual-orientations.

St. John's United Methodist Church affiliated with the Reconciling Ministries Network in 1998, pledging to “advocate for changes in our denominational policy that lead to a fully just and fully inclusive global connection” and to a fully just and inclusive world. We will continue to be guided by that vision and work for its fulfillment.

To all LGBTQIA+ persons we say, “no matter what the Church has ever said to you, you are loved by God. You are loved by St. John's United Methodist Church, its clergy, staff, and membership. We will continue to stand with you and for you until all discrimination, injustice, and harm against you is ended.”

May the peace of Christ be with you."

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