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World Methodist Leaders Adopt Statement on Unity, Sexuality

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    The executive committee adopted the Unity and Sexuality statement during its Sept. 15-18 meeting. ... World Methodist Leaders Adopt Statement on Unity,
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 1, 2004
      The executive committee adopted the "Unity and Sexuality" statement
      during its Sept. 15-18 meeting.

      ---------------------

      World Methodist Leaders Adopt Statement on Unity, Sexuality
      By Kathy L. Gilbert*
      October 1, 2004

      PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa (UMNS)-Top leaders of the World Methodist
      Council have adopted a statement on unity to "sound a note of warning"
      that churches must seriously address tensions around issues of human
      sexuality.

      If the church fails to look at the issue of homosexuality now, the
      unity of the church will suffer, said His Eminence Sunday Mbang,
      chairperson of the council's executive committee and prelate of the
      Methodist Church in Nigeria.

      The executive committee adopted the "Unity and Sexuality" statement
      during its Sept. 15-18 meeting.

      "A number of countries, particularly in Europe and America, are
      legalizing gay marriages," Mbang said in his opening statement to the
      committee. "The churches in those areas are ordaining gay ministers.
      Some of them have already consecrated gay bishops. This trend is
      spreading like wildfire in some areas."

      Many people of faith, especially in Africa, "are becoming very
      confused at this trend and this new learning," he said.

      "The future of the Christian church and Methodism may depend on what
      we do or fail to do at a time when Christianity is going through (a)
      crisis which she has brought upon herself.

      "The sooner each of us under God takes a position on this new trend,
      the better for the Christian church."

      In response to his remarks, the ecumenics and dialogue committee
      drafted the unity statement, calling for churches to "apply their
      energies and best minds to the challenges as we all seek God's light."

      The statement acknowledges that the executive committee could not
      "give more satisfactory answers than those which have resulted from
      long thought and discussion in our churches; it desires only to sound
      a note of warning."

      It goes on to urge member churches to love all their people but to
      hold firmly to the "centrality of Scripture, to the long Christian
      tradition of teaching on the order of creation, on marriage and family
      life, and to exercise immense care as they face choices which could
      threaten the unity of congregations and churches."

      The World Methodist Council links churches in the Methodist and
      Wesleyan tradition in 132 countries. The full council meets every five
      years; during the intervening years, the council is guided by the
      executive committee, representing 76 member churches.


      *Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in
      Nashville, Tenn.

      The full text of the statement follows:


      STATEMENT FROM THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
      OF THE WORLD METHODIST COUNCIL


      UNITY AND SEXUALITY

      The Chairperson, His Eminence Sunday Mbang, in his opening address to
      this Executive, called for a response to the widespread debate 'within
      the churches on the subject of human sexuality.' He asserted 'the
      unity of the Church is gradually beginning to suffer' as a result of
      significant tensions. He observed the impact of new and unfamiliar
      interpretations of the Scriptures to the confusion of many faithful
      Christians. We also have record of its adverse effect on our
      Christian mission.

      Several churches have worked for many years to find a way to respond
      to the pastoral needs of their people in the face of changing
      attitudes to sexual orientation and sexual practice in our societies
      and cultures, acknowledging that our sexuality is one of the gifts of
      God in creation. (The issue is sharpened in many cases where a call to
      ordained ministry is involved.)

      It must be observed that there is no ethical consensus in the world at
      large on these and related matters. For Christians, there is a tension
      between the desire to respond in love to all God's creatures in the
      light of the Gospel's universal promises, and the need to discern
      God's will in rapidly changing circumstances. Additionally, we must be
      concerned for the health of the nations and the future of the entire
      human family.

      In our review of ecumenical relationships, it is clear that at least
      one Christian World Communion has been internally disrupted as a
      result of the actions of certain individuals and conciliar bodies; its
      survival is at stake. Others with whom we remain in dialogue have
      firmly reasserted classical Christian teaching on these matters. Some
      of our own member churches have come to the brink of division or have
      lost members through precipitate action.

      It is acknowledged that this Executive is unlikely to give more
      satisfactory answers than those which have resulted from long thought
      and discussion in our churches; it desires only to sound a note of
      warning. It takes with complete seriousness the issues involved,
      scriptural and doctrinal, medical and ethical. It urges the churches
      to apply their energies and best minds to the challenges, as we all
      seek God's light. It urges the churches to endeavour to preserve the
      bond of peace and love with all their members. But it equally urges
      the member churches to hold firmly to the centrality of Scripture, to
      the long Christian tradition of teaching on the order of creation, on
      marriage and family life, and to exercise immense care as they face
      choices which could threaten the unity of congregations and churches.


      Adopted by the Executive Committee of the World Methodist Council
      Port Elizabeth, South Africa
      September 17,2004

      ********************


      United Methodist News Service
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