A gay Methodist pastor is about to be tried by her United Methodist Church. The development comes after the church’s Great Plains Conference rejected a resolution to a complaint filed against the Rev. Cynthia Meyer.
Meyer reportedly came out to her church’s congregation in Edgerton, Kansas, while giving a sermon on Jan. 3, reports Religion News Service.
Meyer said she was “called by God to be open and honest” regarding her sexuality in her sermon. After Meyer’s announcement to the congregation, district superintendent the Rev. David Watson complained to church authorities.
The controversy surrounding Meyer’s coming out to her congregation comes as the Methodist Church’s General Conference is set to meet in May for a potential revision of its policy on gay clergy and marriage.
The Methodist Church’s Book of Disciples presently calls homosexuality “incompatible with Christian teaching.”
Bishop Scott Jones suggested that Meyers should leave the church if the General Conference decides to keep its current ban on gay clergy. Meyers and other Methodists say they are outraged at the church’s response.
“They joined me in my dismay in his suggestion that I leave, and that the entire congregation leave the denomination,” Meyer said.
Many of the Methodist Church’s officials noted the variety of stances on gay marriage and clergy within the church, reported The Washington Post.
“We are the church of the big tent. There’s room for everyone,” said Erik Alsgaard, managing editor of the church’s publications.
Sarah Tupper, a gay Methodist, says that her church needs to be more welcoming.
“There are definitely denominations that are welcoming," said Tupper. "We would be giving up something in our own theology and how we want to raise our children to believe. That’s the trickiness of being someone who’s conservative and evangelical and gay.”
Tupper recalled sending emails to conservative Methodist churches in search of a welcoming community. She did not get any responses.
“It made me cry. I was shocked, really. There’s no space for us,” she said.
As the Methodist Church prepares to deliberate its policy on homosexual pastors and couples, Bishop Jones urged respectful dialogue.
“We are not of one mind as a denomination, and yet how we treat each other in resolving these differences is vitally important,” said Jones.