OKC pastor decrys Methodist anti-gay stance
Editor's note: Delegates at the United Methodist Church's Feb. 23-26 General Conference in St. Louis voted in favor of retaining the denomination's ban on same-sex marriage and the ordination of gay and lesbian clergy. Delegates approved what was called the Traditionalist Plan, which maintained language in the denomination's Book of Discipline that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. A second proposal, which also proved popular but without the votes for approval, was the One Church Plan. This plan would allow individual churches and clergy to decide on gay weddings and Methodist conferences (regional jurisdictional bodies) to decide on the question of gay ordination. Since the gathering in February, the global denomination has been responding to the historic vote in various ways. Two Oklahomans with different viewpoints on the matter recently shared their views with The Oklahoman.
An Oklahoma City United Methodist pastor said he does not agree with his denomination's recent stance against same-sex marriage and the ordination of gay and lesbian clergy.
That's why the Rev. Scott Spencer, senior pastor of Mosaic United Methodist Church, said he will not abide by the denomination's ban against same-gender marriage.
Spencer said he wrote a letter to his church members saying as much and shared it with his congregation just a few days after delegates of the global United Methodist Church voted against the One Church plan that would have given him and his church the ability to officiate/host same-gender weddings.
"I will treat all couples who come to me equally. I will meet with them, hear their stories, and talk to them about the commitment of marriage and why they seek the church’s blessing. We will explore the costs (if I do the ceremony) to me, the couple, and the church. And only then will I make a decision, on a case-by-case basis, of doing a wedding," Spencer wrote in his letter.
"I know some may not agree with this decision. Some may not understand this decision. Some will say wait for the rules to change. Friends, we have been waiting since 1972 for the rules to change. I refuse to withhold the church’s blessing from our lesbian and gay members and friends."
Wednesday, Spencer said he also emailed the letter to his district superintendent and the Rev. Jimmy Nunn, bishop of the Oklahoma United Methodist Conference and Oklahoman Indian Missionary Conference. He said his superintendent, the Rev. Rockford Johnson, thanked him for sharing his statement and sharing his convictions.
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Spencer said he hasn't heard from Nunn and doesn't expect to — unless he defies Methodist Church law and officiates at a gay wedding.
Spencer's church is part of the Reconciling Network, a network of United Methodist churches across the nation working toward full inclusion for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. He attended the recent General Conference gathering in St. Louis, but not as a delegate. Spencer said he went to the meeting as part of the Mainstream United Methodists, a group working toward full inclusion for gay people in the Methodist Church.
The minister said none of his church members were shocked at the position he decided to take.
He said his church was supportive but concerned about him.
"I don't know if I surprised anybody. They were enthusiastic and some of them expressed concerns because they don't want me to do a wedding and get in trouble. They want me to be wise," Spencer said.
The preacher said there were rumors that people on both sides of the gay inclusion issue did things at the General Conference gathering that were not Christ-like.
He said he knows that some of his colleagues disagree with him and his views and they love the LGBTQ community as he does, but "we just have a different understand of what that means."
“Living into Biblical Obedience has broad and expansive expressions. ... Today, I am announcing that I will no longer use the excuse that the Book of Discipline prohibits me from performing the wedding ceremony for same gender couples," Spencer wrote in his letter.
"I will be an extremist for love, truth, and goodness. I will not discriminate against our LGBTQIA+ siblings and friends. Peace."