DES MOINES (AP) — Hundreds of Iowa Methodists who recently gathered for a state conference said they disagree with the church's opposition to same-sex marriage and the ordination of gay clergy, according to pastors who attended the meeting.
A group called Do No Harm Iowa gathered as many as 500 signatures during the Sunday conference in response to a recent meeting of the United Methodist Churches' global conference of leaders. A vote at the global meeting, which is held every four years, determined the church's book of doctrine and rules would continue to call the practice of homosexuality “incompatible with Christian teaching.”
The Rev. Diane McClanahan of Trinity United Methodist Church in Des Moines said the global church's stance is incompatible with her concept of Jesus.
“There are so many pieces of Scripture we no longer abide by because we have a different context,” said McClanahan, spokeswoman for Do No Harm Iowa. “(Homosexuality) is just the issue of the day.”
Two protest documents were read Sunday at the state conference following the report on the United Methodist General Conference, which ended May 4 in Tampa, Fla.
One of the documents said pastors would “commit to marrying without bias or discrimination all people who seek the blessing of the church.” The other said that “by discriminating against, diminishing, or demeaning our sisters and brothers in the family of faith, we are in an impossible situation and will be faithful to the law as interpreted by Jesus rather than comply with (church rules).”
The Rev. Bill Burkhart, one of the Iowa Conference's top administrators, said he wouldn't speculate about what would happen if United Methodist pastors carry out their pledge to conduct same-sex weddings. He called the signature-gathering at the conference simply dialogue.
“It's part of our tradition to hear takes from people on all different issues,” Burkhart said.
Marsha Acord, a Methodist campus minister who serves students at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, said those who oppose the stance taken by the global conference believe “we will move into a time when all of the church will be inclusive.”
About 800 United Methodist congregations serve about 180,000 people across Iowa. But McClanahan notes its global reach as well.
“I'm a life-long member of the Methodist Church, and I don't see myself leaving,” she said. “It has everything necessary to transform the world.”
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