Wichita Methodist pastors are reacting after delegates of the United Methodist Church voted to strengthen the ban on same-sex marriage and ordination on LGBTQ clergy.
In rainbow letters, a sign that says, “#whereloveislove” hangs from the outside of College Hill United Methodist church, a message for those in the LGBTQ community.
The pastor has another message after the delegates’ decision.
“I am so sorry,” said Jill Sander-Chali, pastor. “I am so sorry for the harm that our church position has caused you for many, many years and for the harm that continues to be caused.”
Sander-Chali said this isn’t the end of the road, though. After the delegates voted 438-384 for the Traditional Plan, which would maintain the church’s rules about same-sex marriage and LGBTQ clergy, they also voted to send the decision to the Judicial Council for the final say-so.
“They will look at the traditionalist plan to determine whether or not it is constitutional according to our United Methodist Constitution,” said Sander-Chali.
At Wichita First United Methodist Church, associate pastor, Rebecca Goltry Mohr is reacting to the vote, too.
“As a young clergy person, this vote was a big vote and has been hurtful to many people,” Goltry Mohr said. “This is just a decision. The church will continue to be the church. The church was never perfect. There’s lots of work to do to fix this.”
The clergy of both churches said their doors will remain open to everyone.
“I full anticipate that we will hopefully find a way to include all people in the life of the church,” said Goltry Mohr.
“We will once again gather this Sunday to remember who we are as a congregation, to remember our special call to justice that we believe comes from God,” said Sander-Chali.
Todd Seifert is the communications director at the Great Plains Conference and was at the special session in St. Louis. He said the penalties for clergy members who conduct same sex marriages/weddings could face suspension all the way to being stripped of pastoral credentials in the United Methodist Church.
That decision will also go to the church’s Judicial Council who will meet in April.