The Rev. Rachel Baughman of Oak Lawn United Methodist Church (UMC) in Dallas appointed Isabel Marquez, a lesbian, and Ryan Wager, who is gay, to pastor positions without the authorization of the UMC's North Texas Conference. Oak Lawn UMC's service on that day included a celebration of Marquez's and Wager's graduation from licensing school.
The two went through a months-long process to serve as local pastors through the North Texas Conference, with expectations of being appointed at Oak Lawn – which is located in an LGBT-friendly neighborhood. However, the conference informed the congregation's leaders that the request to appoint Marquez and Wager as pastors was rejected. North Texas Conference Resident Bishop Michael McKee coursed the message to Oak Lawn.
According to the Dallas church, the conference did not cite a reason for turning down the request to appoint the two. Meanwhile, the conference said in a statement that it would not publicize the reasons why the request for appointments was denied.
Baughman's decision is considered "civil disobedience" and defiance against the church, but she remarked that it was a risk worth taking.
"While we may lack ecclesial authority to formally appoint Isabel [Marquez] and Ryan [Wager], we claim the moral authority to recognize the call of God upon their lives and celebrate and bless their work of pastoral ministry," the reverend said. "We will celebrate the things they have accomplished, and recognize them at Oak Lawn because we believe that we have a moral authority to do so."
"Civil disobedience comes with consequences, but the consequences of inaction is far greater. Inaction harms those who have been harmed the most already."
The conference's rejection of the Oak Lawn UMC's request came as a blow to Wager and Marquez, who pursued their calling to minister to other LGBT individuals at Oak Lawn. Wager came out as gay in his mid-20s, but found his way back to Christianity when his father died. Marquez, who has been with the Dallas-based church for three years, came out as lesbian more than two decades ago.
Requests to appoint LGBT pastors, such as the one lodged by Oak Lawn, gave rise to the Global Methodist Church (GMC) from inside the UMC.
The GMC, which leans more conservative than the bigger parent church, announced its formal launch back in March 2022. The conservative faction said it plans to split with the more liberal UMC over LGBT-related issues, which include the appointment of pastors and bans on same-sex marriages, effective May 1. (Related: United Methodists agree to split over homosexual marriage – is Drag Queen Story Hour coming to Sunday services?)
The Rev. Keith Boyette, chairman of the GMC's transitional leadership council, said in a statement: "Theologically conservative local churches and annual conferences want to be free of divisive and destructive debates, and to have the freedom to move forward together. We are confident many existing congregations will join the new GMC in waves over the next few years."
A month after the GMC announced its launch, the UMC's Council of Bishops acknowledged the conservative faction's existence and the eventual schism set to happen.
"There is no perfect Church. The constant fighting, the vitriolic rhetoric [and] the punitive behaviors have no place in how we preserve and promote our witness as Christian believers," said Bishop Thomas Bickerton, president of the council. He described the launch of the GMC as a "sad and sobering reality."
However, it appears that the eventual split between UMC and GMC is the tipping point of internal debates about sexuality and gender within the church. Back in February 2019, more than half of church leaders and lay members voted to tighten the ban on LGBT marriages. They also voted to reiterate that "the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching."
Watch this video about lesbian pastors pushing homosexuality in the UMC.
This video is from the Follower of Christ777 channel on Brighteon.com.