The United Methodist Church ended a conference held once every four years today after voting 572-368 to continue viewing homosexual relationships as “incompatible with Christian teaching.”
Trends in the 12 million-member denomination may indicate an uphill battle for homosexual activists. About 40 percent of the church’s delegates come from overseas, where most view the Bible as inerrant, as opposed to a more liberal Western interpretation.
“Thanks to its global membership, United Methodism uniquely is growing in members and rejecting liberal accommodation of secular Western culture, unlike declining U.S. mainline Protestant denominations,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy.
According to church reports, membership in the U.S. fell by 100,000 last year, while African Methodist churches grew by 200,000.
The delegates also defeated on a 507-441 vote a lesser measure acknowledging the difference of opinion on homosexuality within the denomination, calling for respect and coexistence.
Thursday’s actions were the latest chapter in a four-decade debate within the Methodist Church. Several other denominational churches have previously changed doctrine to accept homosexuality, including the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the U.S. Presbyterian Church and the United Church of Christ. All those denominations ordain openly homosexual clergy members; the United Church of Christ also condones same-sex marriage.