Friday, August 5, 2022

Recommended Reading: Methodist Church of Brazil discusses relations with UMC

There was a debate at the recently-held General Conference of the Methodist Church in Brazil about whether to continue the church's long-standing relationship with the UMC, amid concerns about differing theologies of sexuality. UMNews has published a story about the Brazilian General Conference in Portuguese, with a Google translation available here.

The Methodist Church in Brazil has its roots in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, one of the forerunners of The United Methodist Church. Currently, the UMC invites non-voting delegates from the Methodist Church in Brazil to attend General Conference in recognition of the historic and fraternal ties between the two churches. The two denominations also collaboration on mission and other projects and are both members of the World Methodist Council.

The debate in the Methodist Church in Brazil's General Conference reflects that denomination's conservative stance on sexuality. As the UMNews article makes clear, the Brazilian General Conference also discussed pro-environmental and anti-racism measures, so the Brazilian church does not easily equate to any one theological or political position held in the United States.

Nevertheless, this debate is an indicator of the sort of ecumenical tensions that the UMC/GMC split is causing within world Methodism but beyond the UMC. Such debates, which also arose at the recent Methodist Church of Mexico General Conference, are presenting themselves because of strong GMC outreach beyond the UMC, outreach that often carries an anti-UMC message.

Bishop Jaoa Carlos Lopes and Prof. Paulo Roberto Garcia persuaded the Brazilian General Conference not to take any action regarding its relationship with the UMC until after the next UMC General Conference in 2024, arguing that the UMC has not changed its teachings on sexuality.

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