Who Can Teach in the United Methodist Church?

Cross and flame

If a United Methodist Church were to go beyond the current discriminatory restrictions of the United Methodist Book of Discipline and create a policy that no LGBTQIA+ persons would be allowed to teach in the church in any capacity, it seems that would be something they would need to publicize very broadly so that everyone in the church or who may come to the church knows what kind of place they are dealing with. Are there United Methodist churches that have such a policy? If there are United Methodist churches with such a policy, would these churches be willing for this policy to be public knowledge? If they are not wanting it to be public knowledge, then why not?

If a church is going to discriminate in such ways, then it needs to be upfront about what its practices and policies are. Don’t pretend everyone in the congregation is equal and then tell people that the only reason they can’t teach a Sunday School class or a Bible study is because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Such churches should create their own addendum to the United Methodist Book of Discipline that lets their members know who is and who is not allowed to teach in the church. If they want to include any other categories of persons not worthy of teaching in the church, they can put those categories in the addendum as well. Just list all the categories of persons who are not allowed to teach with all of the reasons why so that there will be clarity, transparency, and no confusion about who can and cannot teach in the church.

The “Who Can and Cannot Teach in the Church” addendum could also be published clearly in a church membership handbook so that everyone knows that they are joining a church that doesn’t allow persons who are LGBTQIA+ to teach in the church. Might as well post the policy on the door of every Sunday School Class so that everyone can know that they are being taught in an “LGBTQIA+ Teacher Free Zone.” If there are other things that LGBTQIA+ persons are not allowed to do in the church, this should be clearly stated in an “LGBTQIA+ Persons Restriction Addendum” as well.

Such churches shouldn’t try to sweep the issue of who can and cannot teach under the rug and quietly deal with “those who cannot teach” behind closed doors and in quiet whispers, hoping that when they are told that they won’t make a fuss and will quietly submit to the church’s discriminatory practices. If these churches really believe that LGBTQIA+ persons should not be teaching in the church, then they should own it, make it public, and not mislead people into thinking they can teach in the church if they don’t think they are worthy of doing so.

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About Mark Y. A. Davies

Mark Davies is the Wimberly Professor of Social and Ecological Ethics and Director of the World House Institute for Social and Ecological Responsibility at Oklahoma City University. He is the Executive Director of the Leadership, Education, and Development (LEaD) Hub North America of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church and an Oklahoma Humanities State Scholar. Mark has published in the areas of Boston personalism, process philosophy and ethics, and ecological ethics. Dr. Davies serves on the United Methodist University Senate, which is “an elected body of professionals in higher education created by the General Conference to determine which schools, colleges, universities, and theological schools meet the criteria for listing as institutions affiliated with The United Methodist Church.” He and his wife Kristin live in Edmond, OK in the United States, and they have two daughters. The views expressed by the author in this blog do not necessarily represent the views of Oklahoma City University or the United Methodist Church.
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6 Responses to Who Can Teach in the United Methodist Church?

  1. Robin Meyers says:

    As always Mark, well said.

  2. Ruth Atterberry says:

    If someone were to compile the list of these churches and make it public, would they deny their policies? Could they? Should we see?

  3. Ruth A says:

    If someone were to compile a list of such churches, would they deny their limitations on teachers? Could they? Should we find out?

    (And how do they know such personal information about all of their teachers??)

  4. Duane Carlisle says:

    The pastors and lay leaders of our congregation have had conversations very similar to this. We talked about editing and printing a copy of a Book of Discipline that we want the greater church to become and that we currently try to live into in our present lives at Broadway UMC. While we have not actually printed this imagined BOD out, we have made the following public statement.

    https://files.constantcontact.com/e573091e001/cd5c48cc-4010-49d0-b74c-c3a1ecdf1db2.pdf

  5. David says:

    Of course there are churches who stand beside Scripture (and the current Book of Discipline) and deny LGBTQ leadership and teaching positions, as they should. Why should we shy away from biblical truths?

    There are churches who also don’t let people living in other unrepentant sins hold these same positions. It is not discrimination against a person. It is not allowing them to live against God and then teach/preach in the church. That is biblical.

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