LGBTQ activists react as Senate passes Respect for Marriage Act, United Methodist churches disaffiliate
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The Respect for Marriage Act passed the United States Senate Tuesday with bipartisan support, meaning protections for same-sex and interracial marriages are one step closer to becoming law.
North Carolina Senators Richard Burr and Tom Tillis both voted in favor of the bill.
Caroline Morin, the executive director of the LGBTQ Center of the Cape Fear Coast says the senate’s action is a sign of progress.
“All progress has been moving in the right direction,” Morin said. “I’m in my 30s, but I grew up not being able to get married. So for my life, that is a defining factor. I remember exactly where I was on the day the Supreme Court passed down the first marriage decision. I will never forget it because there was something about it that is, I hate to say it, but a reminder that people see you as just as legitimate.”
Meanwhile, 249 United Methodist churches in North Carolina have voted to disaffiliate from the denomination over its LGBTQ guidelines. The North Carolina Conference of United Methodist Churches says this represents 32 percent of the congregations in the Conference and around 22 percent of the membership.
Pine Valley United Methodist Church in Wilmington will soon join the Global Methodist Church, an organization founded earlier this year. A spokesperson declined an interview but sent the following statement:
“On September 19, 2022, the members of Pine Valley United Methodist Church (PVUMC) voted to amicably disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church (UMC). The vote was a faith-driven and historical decision that took place during a Church Conference, presided over by a UMC District Superintendent. Acting in faith to stand on the truth of God’s Word, Pine Valley UMC joined hundreds of UMC churches in North Carolina that have voted to disaffiliate.
Disaffiliation is the process by which churches may choose to separate from the United Methodist Church (UMC) based on the actions or inactions of its Annual Conference relating to the requirements and provisions of the Book of Discipline as resolved and adopted by the 2019 General Conference. The deadline for completion of disaffiliation is December 31, 2023.
On November 19, 2022, the North Carolina Annual Conference voted to ratify the disaffiliation of 249 churches within the Conference. Upon fulfilling the terms of disaffiliation, Pine Valley UMC will no longer be a United Methodist Church. Additionally, Pine Valley UMC voted to join the Global Methodist Church, a theologically-traditional Methodist denomination that launched in May 2022. Pine Valley UMC remains grateful to the United Methodist Church (UMC), and especially to the North Carolina Annual Conference for working with us in this process.
While this was not an easy decision, disaffiliating from the United Methodist Church (UMC) will allow the Pine Valley family to move past the denominational struggle and focus all of our attention on “Connecting hearts to Christ and one another.” The missions and ministries of Pine Valley UMC will remain the same where all are welcome to experience the transforming grace of Jesus Christ. As we move forward with expectant hope, we will continue to seek the Lord’s guidance and direction.
Morin says she is disappointed in churches that are not inclusive of same-sex marriage.
“When folks realize that the tide is turning, that their old opinions are no longer holding water, they get afraid,” Morin said. “They’re afraid of the diversity, they’re afraid of the reality of what the world might look like when we all get a little bit more of a seat at the table. And that’s unfortunate because it really just means the world is going to look a lot more loving, and those folks are going to be missing out on it.”
To find a list of United Methodist churches disaffiliating from the denomination, click here.
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