EDGERTON, Kansas — A lesbian United Methodist minister in Kansas has been placed on involuntary leave following a complaint over a January sermon in which she came out about her same-sex attractions despite the denomination’s prohibitions against homosexual ministers.
On Jan. 3, Cynthia Meyer announced to Edgerton United Methodist Church, where she had served since July, that she was a lesbian.
“I have been an ordained United Methodist pastor for 25 years. At last, I am choosing to serve in that role with full authenticity, as my genuine self, a woman who loves and shares my life with another woman,” she declared to those gathered.
A complaint was soon filed against Meyer for violating the United Methodist Book of Discipline, which prohibits those living in the sin of homosexual behavior from serving as leaders.
“While persons set apart by the Church for ordained ministry are subject to all the frailties of the human condition and the pressures of society, they are required to maintain the highest standards of holy living in the world,” it reads.
“The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching,” the Book continues. “Therefore self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.”
Meyer was brought before Great Plains Area Bishop Scott Jones for meetings about the matter, and when a resolution was unable to be reached in April, it seemed that she was headed for a church trial that could result in defrocking.
On Aug.. 1, following continued meetings, including with the JustPeace Center for Mediation and Conflict Transformation, it was agreed for Meyer to take leave until the next General Conference in 2020. The Conference is expected to further discuss the issue of homosexuality at that time.
“The agreement we reached upholds the Book of Discipline and yet recognizes that the larger denomination is in a time of discernment about a way forward,” Jones told United Methodist News Service. “So this agreement recognizes that accountability was necessary and yet holds open possibilities for whatever the general church is going to decide.”
Meyer released a statement about the resolution on Wednesday, asserting that Church policy is discriminatory and that embracing those practicing homosexuality is the “way of Jesus.”
“The disconnect between my gay identity and my church’s policies has distressed me for many years,” she said. “I’ve long recognized and now assert that it’s past time for the denomination to change. It’s my time to share my story as a part of that change.”
“When I spoke my truth in January, my hopes were many, including that of joining with other bold spirits in advocating for the UMC to better follow the way of Jesus, the ways of justice, love and full inclusion, particularly for those often marginalized, judged, and harmed,” Meyer asserted. “I acted, then and now, out of love for and commitment to the United Methodist Church.”
She said that she would like United Methodist leadership to remove its prohibition on homosexual clergy from its Book of Discipline.
“I hope that the UMC, through a fully representative, inclusive commission, then a focused General Conference, will intentionally, prayerfully remove all discriminatory language and practice from its Book of Discipline,” Meyer stated.
However, as previously reported, not all United Methodist clergy and ministry leaders support homosexual behavior. In an article entitled “Why Many Methodists Still Oppose Same-Sex Marriage,” John Lemperis, the Director of the UM Action program of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, said that the Bible is crystal clear on the matter.
“Even liberal Biblical scholars now agree that the Old and New Testaments are very clear in their moral disapproval of homosexual practice,” he wrote. “More fundamentally, Scripture paints a beautiful picture of marriage as a holy covenant of intensely intimate, self-giving community between man and woman, uniting the two most basic, equal categories of humanity.”
“We submit to Jesus as Lord,” Lemperis stated. “If He is truly Lord, then no area of our lives can be off-limits to Him. Jesus spoke strongly about the centrality of self-denial in following Him, which often means dramatic personal sacrifices, including not acting on powerful desires for things outside of God’s best for us. … Jesus and new life in Him are more than worth it.”