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'No to gays'

30 Mar 2019 at 23:11hrs | Views
METHODISTS have united against homosexuality at a Special General Conference held last month in the United States where delegates refused to recognise gay unions and ordain homosexuals into offices of ministry.

A vote of 438 to 384 upheld United Methodist Church's ban against same sex marriages and ordination of self-avowed practicing gay clergy, an issue which had dragged on for years within the UMC.

The rift had raised worry of a split within one of the most influential Christian institutions with at least 12 million members around the globe.

It is against this background that at a General Conference held in Portland two years ago, a ‘Commission on a Way Forward' was set up to look at possible changes to the structure and law, which could help restore unity within the UMC.

As a result, plans to consider the church's future were tabled at this year's conference held on February 23-26.

On one side was the ‘Traditionalist Plan' which reinforced the current rules that ban the recognition of gay unions and ordaining  of homosexual clergy while on the other side was the  ‘One Church Plan', which was to allow congregations and conferences to decide on same-sex weddings and gay clergy. There was also the ‘Connectional Plan'  that  was to  allow churches to sort themselves by theology while the ‘Simple Plan' was to  remove any language about homosexuality from the UMC's Book of Discipline.

After the vote of confidence to stick to the ‘Traditional Plan', the local UMC leaders said this was an indication the church had emerged stronger after adhering to its traditional tenets anchored in the Bible.

Bishop of the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area, Eben Nhiwatiwa said the decision of the UMC demonstrated that God was in charge at the General Conference and believers had to love each other despite their differences.

"God had to lead the church the way God thought it was proper. So to the church in Zimbabwe, I would say we thank God; we thank the whole church for planning things, giving people an opportunity to discuss and vote. We are going to continue worshipping as we have been doing," he said.

Reverend Alan Masimba Gurupira who is the administrative assistant to Bishop Nhiwatiwa added that the no vote demonstrated the church's desire to move ahead by following transformative principles.

He said the church did not discriminate against homosexuals but was ever ready to offer them a platform to be transformed and follow Godly practices that marriage is between male and female.

"Zimbabwe is very traditional. We are based on the principles of scriptures… The missionaries came over to Africa and taught us this way and we did forgo polygamy as a result of that teaching. We, as Africans have forgone that because we know we had to be transformed," said Rev Gurupira.

He said that the church in Africa is a torch bearer being consistent and loyal to the principles of the gospel in a time when worldly views seem to dominate local and international discourse.

How can the church handle homosexuality?

Source - sundaymail
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