First United Methodist Church, a member of the Reconciling Ministries Network that opposes the global United Methodist Church’s anti-LGBTQ position, will celebrate the Methodist National Day of Resistance on Sunday, Jan. 5, with a special service led by LGBTQ Methodists and allies.
The United Methodist churches in the United States voted overwhelmingly against the global church’s Traditional Plan, which strengthened the church’s previous stand on the incompatibility of homosexuality and Christianity, goes into effect Jan. 1. The church service, which starts at 5:30 p.m., is to “show visible support for being a denomination of inclusion of ALL, to show those who will be directly harmed that we stand together and to stand in opposition to the discriminatory and harmful language and rules of the traditional plan,” City Director Kathy Webb said in an announcement of the service.
Webb said there will be around 25 LGBTQ United Methodists from churches across Arkansas participating in the service and in the choir. Bonnie Allen, a graduate of Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill., and CEO of the Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, will speak. Webb and state Rep. Tippi McCullough, D-Little Rock, will also participate. First UMC clergy Rev. Maxine Allen and Rev. David Freemen will bless the sacrament.
While a majority of American Methodists support their LGBTQ members and believe they should be treated no differently from other members of the church, they make up a minority of the 7 million-member denomination, a third of which come from African nations that treat homosexuality as a crime.
The Traditional Plan bars ordination of “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” and bans church bodies from even recommending them. Ministers who perform a same-sex wedding will face a minimum one-year suspension without pay for the first offense and be removed from the clergy for the second.