New England Methodist Church Leaders Disagree With Gay Marriage, Clergy Ban

May 13, 2019

New England leaders of the United Methodist Church are pushing back against the denomination's bans on same-sex marriage and gay clergy.

In February, the United Methodist general conference, including members from around the world, voted to uphold the bans.

They were reaffirmed a few weeks ago when the church's internal judicial branch decided the positions adhere to its constitution.

Rick Rabe, pastor of the West Springfield United Methodist Church, said he and most of his congregation are very upset.

"We've done a lot already to reach out to the LGBTQ community, and let them know that where we stand has always been that of inclusion and acceptance," he said. "That's why some of us were in Northampton at the gay pride parade with a bunch of other Methodist churches."

Rabe said he's not too concerned about retribution, because his disagreement is shared by the church's New England leaders.

In March, they released a letter saying they were "heartbroken" by the harm caused by the decision, and are committed to leading a church that "does not discriminate" based on sexual identity.