May 2019 – In a February conference, United Methodist Church delegates from around the world voted to retain guidelines in the denomination’s Book of Discipline to affirm biblical teaching that marriage is between one man and one woman only. Furthermore, it affirmed standing UMC policy that prohibits ordination of LGBT persons and their serving in pastoral
The vote was 53% to 47%. It is significant to note that U.S. delegates voted to abandon the Discipline’s biblical stand against gay marriage and gay pastors; but their numbers were offset by UMC delegates from Africa.
In the U.S., ordained UMC clergy who have ignored the church’s mandates against gay marriage and gay leadership have rarely been disciplined as church policy calls for. Thus, some conservatives wonder if there will be much change if U.S. leaders are not held to the church’s clear vote to stick to biblical principles.
For the past 25 years, the UMC in the U.S. has plummeted from 11 million members to 6.8 million, and African UMC membership has grown to 5.3 million members. The U.S. is losing about 100,000 annually, and the African nations are gaining about 100,000. (Some data from ethicsandreligion.com/index.htm.)