Up until now, I have not included any posts or commentary on the LGBT debates within The United Methodist Church, partly because I have seen them as primarily an American rather than a global preoccupation and partly because they have been adequately rehearsed elsewhere. To be sure, United Methodists from elsewhere have been dragged into our denominational fights, especially every four years at General Conference. Nevertheless, most of the conversations (or mutual shouting matches) have occurred in the United States, and all of the judicial questions have involved American annual conferences, though sometimes ultimately arbitrated by the denomination-wide Judicial Council.
Yet in light of the recent protest acts in performing same-sex weddings and subsequent condemnations and judicial recriminations, it is important to acknowledge that, no matter where the debate may have begun, it has become an issue that affects all of us United Methodists, wherever we live. This debate is of interest to United Methodists around the world, and how it plays out will affect United Methodists around the world. Moreover, while there has been a flood of writing on what this means for the UMC in the United States, there has been little attention thus far to the global implications of this issue. Thus, in order to provide some commentary and context for the LGBT debate and how it connects with the issue of the global UMC, let me provide three pieces of recommended reading:
"At the Crossroads of Covenant and Compassion" by our friend Cynthia B. Astle at United Methodist Insight
While Cynthia does not devote much time to the global church per se, her article eloquently frames the debate and its potential consequences.
"Africa, Reconciling Ministries, and The United Methodist Church" by Taylor Walters Denyer at Taylor in Africa
Taylor, a UMC missionary to Africa, provides some much-needed information and perspective for a US-audience on the complexity of the LGBT debate in Africa.
"A Missiologist on the UMC, LGBT, and the Africa Question" by Jeremy Smith at Hacking Christianity
Jeremy, one of the leading American United Methodist bloggers, adds a few of his own comments to Taylor's piece.