Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Mary Leipziger
Observer Photographer 

United Methodist Church Divided as Church in Ocean Park Aligns with Progressives on LGBTQ rights

UMC Policies restricting LGBTQ rights are challenged by a local minister and others in St Louis last week.

 

March 14, 2019

Mary Leipziger

After 40 plus years, policies restricting LGBTQ rights were challenged by a local minister and others, in St Louis last week.

Rev Janet Gollery McKeithen, the minister of the Church in Ocean Park (CIOP) was ordained in the United Methodist Church 35 years ago. She is the daughter of the late United Methodist minister Stanley Gollery and the wife of Floyd McKeithen, a United Methodist minister.

She knew a previous minister Jim Conn, who helped re-form the church in the 1970's. She was assigned to the CIOP in 2005 and felt then and now it was what she was called to do. As part of the Santa Monica community she is a member of the Human Relations Council, the Transportation Management Organization,  the President of the Santa Monica Area Interfaith Council,  A Steering Committee member of the Committee for Racial Justice, and an adviser of Climate Action Monica. She also was a member of Special Education District Advisory Committee of SMMUSD for 10 years. 

In 1972 the General Conference, led by the conservatives, established the 3 restrictive policies: 

1.The ordination of LGBTQ persons was prohibited)

2.  United Methodist Clergy were prohibited from officiating for same gender weddings.

3. The church was not to be rented out for same gender weddings 

After 40 plus years these policies came to head in St Louis last week, "The church is divided, a church in limbo" said McKeithen

At that meeting  ,it was decided there  would  be severe punishments for any clergyperson who marries two people of the same gender. The first offense is punishable by a leave of absence w/o pay for 1 year. The second offense would be eviction w/o trial from the church.

The tightening of church laws was backed by a coalition of conservatives from around the world. 

Rev. McKeithen refuses to sign a document that accepts these two punishments. She has married at least a dozen same gender couples in the CIOP and no policy will make her stop marrying people who love each other, no matter the consequence.

The church is divided into two groups,The Progressives  some who are members of The Reconciling Ministries Network, and the Conservatives, many who are a part of the Wesleyan Convenant Association.

The United Methodist Church has split.  The form the split will take has yet to be determined.  In April, the Judicial Council will determine if these new punishments for same gender weddings and the ordination of LGBTQ individuals will be upheld.  This will lead to decisions about next steps.

Onward, Christian Social Justice Warriors: Santa Monica's "The Church in Ocean Park" from its Facebook Page

"The challenge and opportunity now is to create a relevant church with integrity that will not lead to the same racist, sexist, homophopic, ableist policies and practices that we have now."

In her facebook post, which gathered many followers, Reverend McKeithen issued the following apology.

"Sorry LGBTQ because of pain we are causing you. I am here to tell you what the Methodist Church has done is wrong and you are sacred and loved by God.

She adds,  "What I'm most upset about is what this says to parents and those who are LGBTQ.  Bigot-prone parents now have more fuel to disowning their gay child on "religious" grounds.  And LGBTQ folks are being told that they are broken.  Some self medicate, some commit suicide.  We, the United Methodist Church, have blood on our hands.  We are promoting a culture of hate.   We need to do something very different.  I intend to do what I can to help create something new."

 

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