By Walter Fenton, Good News.
The Connectional Table voted 26 to 10 (there was one abstention) to forward a petition to General Conference 2016 that would dramatically change The United Methodist Church’s teachings on same-sex marriage and the ordination of openly gay clergy.
The proposal, called a “A Third Way,” would change the definition of marriage to include “two people,” allow United Methodist pastors the freedom to preside at same-sex weddings, and it would give annual conferences the right to ordain openly gay candidates for ministry. Advocates described it as a plan that would move the church past its decades-old impasse over the issue of homosexuality.
The 58-member Connectional Table (CT) essentially serves as the church’s general administrative council. The body is charged with implementing the vision and ministries of the UM Church as set forth by the quadrennial meetings of General Conference. Twelve bishops currently serve on the CT with voice and vote. The secretaries of the church’s general boards and agencies and the president of the publishing house also serve on the CT, but they do not vote on matters before the Table.
The Rev. Kenneatha Bigham-Tsai, chairperson of a sub-committee charged with vetting proposals, explained why her team settled on “A Third Way.” “We believe,” she said, “this proposal will keep everyone at the table, allows for the exercise of conscience, better provides for the inclusion of LGBTQ brothers and sisters, and best maintains the unity of the church.”
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