AUSTIN (KXAN) — In a show of clear defiance, the University United Methodist Church is not adhering to the the Methodist General Conference’s vote of reaffirming it’s ban on LGBTQ weddings and punishing clergy who perform these weddings.
Additionally, UUMC has said it will help clergy in the church who also defy the Conference’s ruling.
“We thought that the church was moving toward a direction of more openness and acceptance, instead what we are seeing is a church going backwards on that,” said Senior Pastor John Elford. “We are going to live and minster in this congregation as if those discriminatory rules don’t exist anymore.”
The punishment includes a one year suspension if a clergy member is caught performing a same-sex wedding. If the clergy member is caught once again, then the clergy is defrocked — meaning he or she is stripped of all clergy rights and privileges.
This is not the first time UUMC has been at the forefront for progressive causes, according to Bruce Kellison, a 20-year-member of UUMC.
“We’ve been among the congregations that lead on civil rights back int he 60s, before that, the ordination of women, so this feels very comfortable,” said Kellison.
Pastor Elford says there are numerous Methodist congregations who feel the same way.
“These conversations are going on in Texas, Northern Illinois, North Carolina, Virginia — all across the western conferences,” said Elford.
Additionally, Elford sees a division brewing in the ranks of the United Methodist Church.
“We’re done with trying to work things out together and we are now going to have to work on a separate path for those who are more centrists and those who are more progressive — even to the point of creating our own denomination or our own church.”