Homosexuality splits United Methodist Church

Speaking from the US, one of the delegates Reverend Forbes Matonga said the decision passed was a betrayal to all Africans and the church at large

The Zimbabwe United Methodist Church (UMC) described as “a betrayal of the Gospel of Jesus Christ” a decision by its mother body to recognise homosexuality.

This comes after General Conference delegates of the UMC early this week, in the United States, voted overwhelmingly in favour of homosexual practices in the church that has a footprint globally.

By a vote of 692 to 51 after about an hour-and-a-half of debate, General Conference delegates eliminated the 52-year-old assertion in the denomination’s Social Principles that “the practice of homosexuality . . . is incompatible with Christian teaching”.

In the same vote, delegates affirmed “marriage as a sacred, lifelong covenant that brings two people of faith (adult man and adult woman of consenting age or two adult persons of consenting age) into a union of one another and deeper relationship with God and the religious community.”

Randall Miller, who chaired the Social Principles Task Force that led the development of the revisions approved over the past week, said this was a historic moment.

“It’s been 40 years of work for me and others to remove the incompatibility clause from our Social Principles and really live in through our belief that all people are sacred,” said Miller, who is gay and long advocated for the full inclusion of LGBTQ people in church life.

“Just deeply grateful and it’s wonderful to have come to this moment.”

However, the Zimbabwean delegation, which was in the minority, said Western culture was eroding traditional church values and posed a risk to younger generations.

Speaking from the US, one of the delegates Reverend Forbes Matonga said the decision passed was a betrayal to all Africans and the church at large.  

“Indeed, the Church has decided to change the historic teaching of the Church of over 2000 years that homosexuality is a sin and the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman to between two consenting adults,” he said.

“This is for us a betrayal of The Gospel of Jesus Christ in favour of Western secular culture. The United Methodist Church is a Connectional Church, meaning one Church found on four Continents.

“So, what happens to one part of the body affects all. Our children are at risk of being introduced and being dragged into this heathen culture as they go and get educated in United Methodist Universities and Colleges in the USA,” said Rev Matonga. 

Furthermore, he said, in the long-term most children will be indoctrinated into believing that this “sin” is a human right.

Anesu Kapanga, one of the congregates, who was also arrested last year for demonstrating against homosexuality, said with such policies, the church was now exposed.

“It was now obvious that the legalisation of homosexuality in the United Methodist Church was fast approaching and there was nothing the members of the church would do. We as the church cannot wait for the nation to denounce such evil deeds but rather the church must be in the forefront denouncing it.”

Administration assistant to the Bishop, Mr Allen Gurupira responded to the congregates of his church stating that Zimbabwe’s position regarding the issue of homosexuality remained clear and was a complete abhorrence to the practice. 

“Regarding the acceptance of homosexuality, whatever will be done at the General Conference is subject to ratification by annual conferences, of which the Zimbabwe position is very clear,” he said.

The decision of the UMC also sparked debate on social media platforms with many denouncing it as “unholy” and a “sin”.

Zimbabwe Council of Churches president, Bishop Ignatius Makumbe, who is from the Anglican Church, said churches should align their policies with Government statutes. 

“There is a need for churches to align themselves with the country’s statutes, and as of now the country’s (statutes) state that marriage is only between a man and a woman,” he said.

“UMC in Zimbabwe and in Africa at large needs to draw lessons from what the Anglican and the Roman Catholic Churches did, by refusing to go against the idea of God to allow homosexuality in their churches and defend their dignities as Africans.”

Bishop Makumbe said ZCC will never condone homosexuality.

“ZCC has agreed from the time of its birth that we will not allow homosexuality in any form as the Bible has clearly spelt out that it is a sin,” he said.

“We will follow the issue with the UMC administration in Zimbabwe and see how will can help as an organisation.”


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