From The New York Times: The United Methodist Church on Tuesday voted to strengthen its ban on gay and lesbian clergy and same-sex marriages, a decision that could split the nation’s second-largest Protestant church. After three days of intense debate at a conference in St. Louis, the vote by church officials and lay members from around the world doubled down on current church policy, which states that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.”;

One of the things that makes the choice by the United Methodist Church against full inclusion of LGBTQ clergy and marriage equality not only sad but baffling to me is that back when I was a conservative Evangelical, we thought Methodists were “barely” Christian! Their motto for a long time has been, “Open Heart, Open Minds, Open Hands,” and that made them pretty suspicious to theological conservatives.

The Methodists have long had quite the reputation for being involved in social justice which also made them suspicious to theological conservatives because we thought they’d thrown the baby out with the bathwater and had forsaken sound Christian teaching to try and be “relevant.”

Just as it was wrong for me to judge them for being too liberal 20 years ago, it is not only ironic but wrong for me to judge them now for being too conservative. So while I’ll try to suspend my judgment, I feel so much grief for them because all of the Methodist ministers I know are ardent defenders and welcomers of those who are typically marginalized by the conservative church.

Here in Denver, Jasper Peters and Justin Bullis of Belong Church, Jerry Herships of After Hours Church and Brad Laurvick of Highlands United Methodist Church are all doing such wonderful, reconciling work in our city and live out the wideness of God’s love and mercy for absolutely everyone.

For them, this denominational decision cuts deeply and runs so contrary to their understanding of the good news of Jesus which we share at Highlands Church North Denver.

I’ve contacted all of them personally but I’d love it if we could give them a shout of support from Highlands Church North Denver to let them know that while they have some tough decisions to make with regard to their denominational affiliation, they have brothers and sisters here in Denver who love the good work they are doing. Here’s some contact info if you’d like to encourage them:

Belong Church, 1615 Ogden, Denver 80218
Jasper Peters: jasper.peters@belongchurch.org
Justin Bullis: justin.bullis@belongchurch.org

After Hours Church
Jerry Herships: Goddoesntsuck@gmail.com

Highlands United Methodist Church, 3131 Osceola St., Denver 80211
Brad Laurvick: Brad@Highlandsumc.com

Nothing but love…for all!

Mark