United Methodists

Will “Third Way” Move United Methodist Church Toward LGBTQ Inclusion?

by Matt Berryman

The body of Christ includes Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) persons. All around the world, and throughout the course of history, the church has baptized queer babies, raised them in the faith, and relied on their many gifts, skills, talents, resources, and passion as it has sought to be food for the world. Today is no different.

We are bishops, we are clergy, we are laypersons.

We are musicians, we are church administrators, and we are missionaries. We teach your children and we are your children. We are your siblings and we are your parents, your neighbors and your friends. We are the body of Christ as sure as Christ Jesus is raised from the dead.

Despite this fact, The United Methodist Church (The UMC) is the only mainline protestant denomination in the US that has failed to dismantle anachronistic policies that continue to harm the bodies, minds, and spirits of LGBTQ persons and their allies.

And yet, a movement of Biblical Obedience is being brought to term within the body of Christ at last. More United Methodists and persons of faith than ever before have heard the clarion call of Biblical Obedience and devoted themselves more faithfully to ministry with and for LGBTQ persons—refusing to honor policies that fail to acknowledge the LGBTQ face of the body of Christ. United Methodists are heeding the call to marry qualified persons of the same sex, to support and ordain LGBTQ candidates for ministry, and to do so knowing that, as St. Augustine once said, “an unjust law is no law at all.”

The Connectional Table of The UMC exists to cast a vision for the church as well as to steward resources for the implementation of such a vision.

As The UMC prepares to gather in 2016 for General Conference, the global denomination’s top lawmaking body, The Connectional Table recently overwhelmingly affirmed a legislative proposal called “A Third Way.”

The proposal grants clergy the freedom to choose whether or not they wish to marry persons of the same sex, ends church trials for clergy who do so, and allows each Annual Conference of the global church to determine LGBTQ suitability for ordination.

As a compromise, “A Third Way” would result in de facto segregation since The UMC’s dispute around the fate of LGBTQ persons is, generally speaking, regionally defined. So, even as it reflects movement toward inclusion, the proposal retains a discriminatory stance against LGBTQ persons and therefore cannot be the end of the story if Christ is to be the author. It is at best an indicator, alongside so many other events over the last few years, that God has already settled this matter.

God’s justice will be born among us—an uncompromised celebration of LGBTQ persons everywhere.

As the prophetic imagination continues to grow, as Biblical Obedience is brought to term, as more and more United Methodists discern the body, and as the church moves inexorably toward the General Conference in 2016, Reconciling Ministries Network calls the whole church to grow into the full stature of Christ and to end the ongoing harm committed against LGBTQ members of the body of Christ—for we know how this story ends.

It is a story inscribed into the wounds of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer persons who have endured the labor pains of exclusion, discrimination, and oppression; and, it is a story, gloriously inscribed onto the resurrected body of Christ —yesterday, today, and forever—alpha and omega—beginning and end.


Originally published by Reconciling Ministies Network; Photo via Reconciling Ministries Network

Comments (7)

John Thomas

As a gay UM seminarian in the
As a gay UM seminarian in the south, I endorse the A Way Forward/Connectional Table resolution, even with the knowledge that my home conference may not allow me to be ordained, at least without intense debate. It truly is a compromise and a way forward that gets us through an impasse. It allows us to live into the Kin-dom of God sooner rather than later. Without compromise, we may lose everything in 2016 and forward. God is indeed moving, calling me any many LGBT candidates to ordination, but very slowly (especially in the US South and Global South).

Pastor Dak!

CONTINUED… blessings and
CONTINUED… blessings and peace in your call, from God to Ministry in the UMC! I gave up on the UMC when my DS was arrested for enticing an undercover policeman in a local park in Omaha, NE (1996). There are straws that break the camel’s back and gross hypocrisy is one of the heavier of many straws! There is a BIG difference between “C” and “c” in Christian… I prefer the former!
George M Melby, M.Div. Pastor/Chaplain (Ret.)!


Kumbaya dear Lord. My stomach
Kumbaya dear Lord. My stomach is wrenching at the thought of defacto segregation but it helps me to land within my congregation which I love. Help us all to find our way to the promised land, but if it is not yet time for full inclusion, Kumbaya – Let it be.


The General Conference better
The General Conference better hurry up and pass the Third Way before the African delegates outnumber the rest.

Gin Sawin

Given that at the 2012 GC,
Given that at the 2012 GC, the Conference could not even agree to disagree, I doubt that this will even come close to passing. Unfortunately, as much as I think this is a great option, given the UMC’s history, the conservative right in America and worldwide in the UMC, this has no chance of succeeding. It’s time for the church in America to follow the example of the Lutherans and Episcopalians in the U.S. – just freaking do it. Just ordain us. Officiate our weddings. And politely flip the bird at the rest of the Communion. They will in their own time realize this is the way of Christ. Our time is now. We need to take a firm stand so that those of us who have left but want to come home can do so on equal footing to our straight brothers and sisters.

Pastor Dak!

Kudos, blessings, and Thank
Kudos, blessings, and Thank you! The time for this is at hand… damn the torpedoes… full speed ahead!
George M Melby, M.Div. Pastor/Chaplain (Ret.)!

Dawn S Liphart

Dear God, Isn’t it time for
Dear God, Isn’t it time for Love to overcome all fear? Please Holy Spirit move our Church forward. Amen

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