The Methodist Church has withdrawn from a conference being held later this month after an invitation to one of its lay workers to give the closing keynote address was withdrawn when the organizers discovered that she was a married lesbian.
The Joined Up Conference is an annual conference for youth and children’s workers, school chaplains and those involved in children’s ministry. For the past three years it has been sponsored by the Diocese of Sheffield, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church working with an organisation in Sheffield that works in local schools. For the fourth annual conference the Scripture Union came on board and this is where the trouble seems to have started, aided by a member of the diocesan team who objected to the presence of an openly gay woman on the panel. We have learned from sources that a decision to exclude the married woman was taken at a meeting at which the Methodist representatives weren’t present, and as a result they decided to withdraw their worker after an exchange of emails with a diocesan worker for which the Bishop of Sheffield has subsequently apologized .
The Archbishop of Canterbury said that LGBTI people are not ‘a problem’ or ‘an issue’ for the Church after the defeat of the House of Bishops’ report GS2055 at General Synod in 2017, but that message has clearly not reached very far in the rest of the Church of England. We applaud the Methodist Church for its principled stance, and can’t help but wonder what such actions will do to the prospects of the Anglican–Methodist Covenant passed only last year at General Synod.
NB The official position of the Church of England is that though members of the clergy are not permitted to enter into same-sex marriages members of the laity are not to be discriminated against for the exercise of their legal right to marry their same-sex partner.
Statement from the Methodist Church re The Joined Up Conference, Sheffield 2019
The Methodist Church has withdrawn from their involvement in the Joined Up Conference 2019.
A member of the Learning and Development Team in the Yorkshire Plus Region, had been asked to facilitate a workshop on LGBT issues and to deliver the closing keynote address. This invitation was withdrawn by part of the planning group because the person is in a same sex marriage. The Methodist Church is committed to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and for this reason, had no option but to withdraw.