United Methodist Splits Over Gays
11 May 2024
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By Religion Reporter- United Methodist Church in Zimbabwe faces a split over Gay rights.

The Church’s Zimbabwe Episcopal Area has strongly denounced the move by the General Conference, the UMC’s global body, to allow same-sex marriages saying this was abominable in the majority of African countries.

This comes after General Conference delegates of the UMC last week, in the United States, voted overwhelmingly in favour of ceasing to condemn homosexual practices in the church by a vote of 692 to 51, with the Zimbabwean delegate voting with the minority, eliminating the 52-year-old assertion in the denomination’s Social Principles that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching”.

On Thursday, the resident Bishop of the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area Eben Nhiwatiwa, issued a communiqué maintaining its strict ban on gay marriages.

It touched on key areas of interest, mainly regionalisation, lifting the ban on homosexuality and the future of UMC in Zimbabwe and Africa.

In his statement, the Zimbabwean bishop said homosexuality remained taboo in Christian culture.

“Lifting the ban on homosexuality does not change our position as Zimbabwe Episcopal Area, that homosexuality is an abomination to us Africans, and as espoused in the Bible the infallible word of God,” reads the statement.

“We United Methodists in Zimbabwe will maintain that ‘homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching’. This is the teaching of the Bible and no resolution can change that.”

Bishop Nhiwatiwa said marriage would always be defined as a union between a man and a woman, and that the church would adhere to the Zimbabwean Constitution that explicitly denies same sex marriage in the country.

“We will not solemnise same-sex marriages as the church. United Methodist Church marriage officers will solemnise marriages according to Zimbabwe’s Marriages Act,” he said.

“The United Methodist Church in Zimbabwe adheres to state laws and is privileged that the Constitution of Zimbabwe does not recognise homosexuality.

“On this matter, it gives me much humility to share with you that our own delegate Justice Hlekani Mwayera stood firm to ensure that our position as espoused continues to be upheld.

“Zimbabwe will come up with its own statute that outlaws homosexuality,” Bishop Nhiwatiwa said.

“The General Conference adopted worldwide regionalisation whose import is that every region will align itself to the biblical, social and legal context,” reads the statement.

“As adopted by the General Conference, this gives us space to come up with our own Book of Discipline in a given region.

“Initial discussions are that central conferences will be regions and as such each central conference will have its own Book of Discipline which ensures Zimbabwean faith and position on marriage remains intact.”

-State media