"Thanks to its increasingly global membership, United Methodism has a bright future ahead." -- IRD President Mark Tooley
Contact: Jeff Walton, Institute on Religion & Democracy, 202-413-5639, email@example.com
TAMPA, Fla., May 4, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- Delegates to the governing body of the United Methodist Church (UMC) have maintained language in the denomination's rule book calling homosexual practice "incompatible with Christian teaching." Delegates from Africa, comprising about 30 percent of the total, were decisive in votes yesterday on wording that sought to soften the church's position. In a negotiated conclusion, it appears all subsequent legislation on sexuality will be left unaddressed at the denominational gathering.
The United Methodist Church will continue to prohibit same-sex unions and expect clergy to be celibate if single and monogamous if married in a marriage between man and woman. The development is counter to recent moves in other liberal-led U.S.-based Mainline Protestant churches to liberalize their sexual teachings.
The global 12 million member UMC is increasingly comprised of overseas membership, especially from Africa. About 40 percent of delegates are from outside the U.S., mostly Africa, where over 4 million United Methodists now live. In the last reporting year, the church in the U.S. lost over 100,000 persons and gained about 200,000 persons in Africa. African United Methodism is overwhelmingly conservative theologically.
IRD President Mark Tooley commented:
"Successive United Methodist General Conferences have repeatedly affirmed scripture and the church's historic teachings on marriage and sexual ethics.
"Thanks to its global membership, United Methodism uniquely is growing in members and rejecting liberal accommodation of secular Western culture, unlike declining U.S. Mainline Protestant denominations.
"Likely to have an African membership majority within a decade or so, United Methodism can anticipate a bright future ahead that is more tied to vibrant global Christianity than to dying liberal Protestantism in America."