Zimbabwe UMC Laity Demonstrate Demanding Reversal of New Marriage and Ordination Policies

Harare, Zimbabwe — Lay members of the United Methodist Church (UMC) in Zimbabwe have petitioned Bishop E.K. Nhiwatiwa, expressing strong disapproval of recent changes to the church doctrine approved at the General Conference held in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA.

These changes include: Redefining marriage to include “two people of faith” instead of solely a “man and woman”.

“Allowing the ordination of openly gay clergy and permitting them to officiate same-sex marriages.

Removing the statement that “homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teachings’.

“The lay members argue these changes contradict the Bible and local Zimbabwean laws, where homosexuality is illegal.

They believe these changes threaten African traditions and moral values.

In their petition, the lay members emphasized the significant impact of the General Conference’s decisions, highlighting concerns about the restructuring of the denomination through regionalization and the adoption of a top-down governance approach. They argue that these changes compromise the Christian beliefs, traditions, and cultural heritage of the church members.

The lay members also raised issues about the treatment of African delegates at the General Conference. Many faced travel difficulties, with 25% unable to attend, which affected the voting outcomes.

Allegations of racism and exclusion of African voices were also highlighted.The petition calls for an urgent meeting to discuss these issues, emphasizing that decisions should reflect the views of the entire church community, not just the leadership.

They demand a series of special sessions of Annual Conferences by July 30, 2024, to allow proper deliberation by delegates representing their congregations.The lay members remain committed to preserving the church’s traditional teachings and call for unity and open dialogue.

They urge the church leadership to address these concerns promptly to maintain the sanctity and heritage of the United Methodist Church.

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