United Methodist Church Votes To Retain Stance Against LGBTQ Marriage And Clergy
TULSA, Oklahoma - One of Oklahoma's largest Christian denominations is dealing with the fallout of a major decision about LGBTQ inclusion.
Tuesday night a special conference of the United Methodist Church voted to strengthen its stance against gay marriage and openly gay clergy.
Tulsa is home to some of the largest Methodist churches in the state and the decision could end up having a large impact.
"I think it is a slap in the face, frankly, to anyone who is in the LGBT community. I think the restrictions and the condemnation is, from my view, is clearly discriminatory," said Reverend David Wiggs.
Wiggs is the pastor of Boston Avenue United Methodist Church in downtown Tulsa. He says he's disappointed by Tuesday's defeat of a plan by bishops that would have allowed individual pastors, churches and regional bodies to define their own stance on issues like gay marriage and ordaining LGBTQ pastors.
"Unfortunately, the Christian church has a long history of choosing one group and then another group and another group to discriminate against," said Wiggs.
More than 800 delegates from Methodist churches around the world have been meeting in St. Louis since Saturday to decide on a course of action on the controversial issues. The majority feel the church should stick to traditional Biblical teaching.
"The traditional plan is not only a traditional plan but the biblical plan that shows that God's word remains foundational to the life and growth of the United Methodist Church,” said Dr. Jerry Kulah, of Liberian United Methodist.
Some believe Tuesday’s vote could signal the start of a denominational split.
"I think there might be another Methodist entity that grows up out of this, particularly in the United States," said Wiggs.
Wiggs says regardless of the decision, his church's mission will not change.
"We were welcoming yesterday, we were welcoming today, we'll be welcoming tomorrow," said Wiggs. "We affirm that everyone is a beloved child of God. And we're going to continue to affirm that."
Reverend Wiggs says he's not sure what's next for his church but expects the denomination to continue to wrestle with these issues.