RADFORD – In the wake of the recent General Conference of the United Methodist Church in St. Louis and a vote taken there on the church’s stance on homosexuality and same sex marriage, Grove United Methodist Church is conducting a service of diversity and inclusion.
Scheduled for Tuesday, Mar. 26 at 7 p.m., the service is being held to “affirm [Grove United Methodist Church’s] vision of being a congregation authentically open to all people, in consideration of the events of the recent General Conference,” according to information released by the church.
“This service will be token support for all people who are discriminated against or marginalized in our society on account of race, physical or mental disabilities, homelessness, poverty, gender, and other reasons, including the LGBT community among them,” the church announcement reads. “It is open to all who wish to attend.”
The global United Methodist Church met in St. Louis from February 23-26. During the conference the Special Session of General Conference passed what the church calls”the Traditional Plan.”
“This means our current statements about homosexuality, same-sex marriage and the ordination of LGBTQ persons have not fundamentally changed,” reads a statement released by the global United Methodist Church on its website.
The vote was close, with the Traditional Plan receiving 438 yes votes (53 percent) and 384 no votes (47 percent).
“Those results indicate the diversity of thought United Methodists have on these issues,” the global United Methodist Church’s statement reads.
The primary speaker for the Radford service at Grove United Methodist Church’s service will will be Leigh Anne Taylor, a United Methodist deacon who, with her ex-husband Joe Cobb, wrote a book called “Our Family Outing: A Memoir of Coming Out and Coming Through,” which details Cobb’s personal journey of his sexuality and coming out as gay. He and Taylor have maintained a close familial relationship after the end of their marriage. Cobb is a minister and serves as Vice Mayor of Roanoke.
“The service will include readings, music, testimonies, and time for reflection to consider how each of us may be participating in acts or attitudes of discrimination and how we can stand up for those whose humanity is discounted in our society,” according to Grove United Methodist Church.
According to the global United Methodist Church, the Traditional Plan mainly deals with the “ordination of LGBTQ clergy and how to resolve issues when a clergy violates our human sexuality stances by, for example, performing a same-sex marriage.”
The General Conference consisted of delegates elected from their annual conferences on four continents, with half of the delegates being clergypersons and half being laypersons. The General Conference is the legislative body of the worldwide United Methodist Church.Bishops preside at the sessions, but do not vote.
The debate may not be over for the United Methodist Church, however.
“Before the 2019 Special Session of General Conference closed, a motion was passed (405-395) to request a decision from the Judicial Council on the constitutionality of the Traditional Plan’s legislative petitions,” the church statement on its website reads. “The bishops have requested a ruling on the constitutionality of the disaffiliation plan also. These issues will be addressed by the Judicial Council when they gather in Evanston, Illinois on April 23-25.”
“This means that we don’t yet know what will change and what will not,” the statement continues. “The United Methodist Church has not split. Clearly, we are not of one mind on these issues. The disagreements are deep on a number of subjects. Through it all, however, we remain one church that continues to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”