The Daily News Article March 5, 2019 - LGBTQ Pledge

Area United Methodist churches pledge open arms in wake of LGBTQ vote

Chloe Skaar


Mar 5, 2019


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Some local United Methodist pastors say their church’s vote last week to reject same-sex marriages and gay clergy doesn’t reflect the views of Kelso and Longview congregations.

During the global United Methodist Church’s General Conference in St. Louis, Missouri, last week, international delegates voted to uphold a ban on gay clergy and performing same-sex marriages.

Allison Mattocks, pastor at Longview United Methodist Church, said her church has performed same-sex marriages before and welcomes — but doesn’t require — pastors to do so.

“Our motto is ‘All means all’ and we take that seriously,” Mattocks said, adding that the church has the phrase on display above the sanctuary door. “What Jesus said was love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul and love your neighbor as yourself. Everything else comes out of that.”

Longview United Methodist Church and Kelso United Methodist-Presbyterian Church are part of the Western Jurisdiction — a group within the denomination made up of churches spanning Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Wyoming, Washington and other Pacific regions.

Mattocks said the Western Jurisdiction has ordained LGBTQ people for years and plans to continue doing so despite the delegates’ vote.

“It isn’t really clear yet what (the vote) means for the church. There will be a lot of study ... about the language,” Mattocks said. “We’re kind of at a wait and see, but for churches in the Western Jurisdiction ... we’re going to continue to be who we were before Tuesday. We’re still open and affirming and welcoming.”

Mattocks said the three-day General Conference was planned for more than two years to address disagreements over language in the church’s Book of Discipline that prohibits LGBTQ people from getting married and becoming pastors or bishops.

Global leaders met for the General Conference on Feb. 24 through Feb. 26, and Mattocks said their cultural differences played a big role in the decision.

“People from all over the world came to this meeting, that were taking up this question about the role that LGBTQ people would have within the church,” Mattocks said. “The way things are fleshed out in different cultures isn’t always the same.”

Mattocks also said the global church has another meeting planned for 2020. In the meantime, the church’s judicial council will take a closer look at its plan for upholding the ban — called the Traditional Plan — to determine its constitutionality.

Barbara Vining, chair of the administrative council and lay leader for the Longview United Methodist Church, said she attended the General Conference for personal reasons and to unofficially witness for her congregation what she said she knew would be an “historic” conference.

An open, married lesbian and the descendant of several United Methodist ministers, Vining said she felt hopeful about the conference but was not surprised by the end result.

“I think the publicity from this ... is harmful to LGBTQ folks (who) wonder if there’s a home for them,” Vining said. “We just want them to know the Western Jurisdiction is a safe and welcoming place.”

Vining said she remains hopeful that Longview United Methodist will be able to decide for itself whether to accept gay clergy and same-sex marriages, but the congregation will maintain its welcoming approach to its LGBTQ members.

“There is concern that people who feel like they don’t have a home in the Methodist Church anymore ... may (have) thoughts of self-harm,” Vining said. “We just want people to know they will continue to be loved. They are loved and they are welcome here. We don’t want anybody hurt.”

Vonda McFadden, pastor at Kelso United Methodist-Presbyterian Church, said her church operates with a similar come-one, come-all mindset. She said that although it is an emotional time for the denomination, she and her church are praying for inclusiveness.

“I expect our church to continue to welcome all people, gay and straight, to know and claim the grace of God in Jesus Christ,” McFadden said.

She also said members of her own church “grieve at the harm done” by the vote.

“I am saddened at the news of the General Conference,” McFadden said. “The God I know loves all people, cherishes all people and calls people to ministry no matter who they love.”

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