COVID-19 delayed a United Methodist schism. But it has left LGBT members in limbo.

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02/20/2020

Rebecca Bernstein says she wants to go to a United Methodist seminary. But her dreams of becoming an ordained Methodist minister are on hold for now. That’s in part because of COVID-19, which has disrupted plans at many graduate schools around the country. But also because of her sexuality. Bernstein, a youth minister at San Ramon Valley United Methodist Church in Alamo, California, identifies as bisexual, which would bar her from ordination under the denomination’s current rules. Those rules describe “the practice of homosexuality” as “incompatible with Christian teaching” and bar “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” from being ordained. United Methodists had planned to meet this spring to discuss a proposal that would have split the denomination over the issue of LGBTQ inclusion, separating those who affirm LGBT inclusion and those who do not. The split was proposed after a special meeting in 2019 strengthened the ban on gay clergy and same-sex marriage in a close vote. For queer UMC members, postponing the vote means another year of anxiety and uncertainty. For queer UMC clergy, many of whom are not officially ordained, it means more delay.

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