By Patrick S. Tokpah
Gbarnga, Bong County-The United Methodist Church of Liberia (UMCL) has concluded its 188th Annual Conference in Gbarnga, Bong County with a clear position against supporting Gay rights across Liberia.
Speaking at the end of the UMCL Conference, Bishop Samuel Quire, Jr. said the Liberia Annual Conference of the UMC is definite in disagreeing to subscribe to the homosexuality comportment by the global Methodist in the ministry, something he considers as a total sin against God.
The 188th Liberia Annual Conference convention was held under the theme: “And Know that I am God,” with text taken from Psalms 46: 1-11
“Fellow United Methodists, by now you are all aware that the global United Methodist Church is at a crossroads. At the next General Conference which has been postponed to August, there is a high probability that our beloved United Methodist Church may cease to exist as we know it today,” he said.
Bishop Quire told the congregation the church is due to amicably separate into two or more denominations, a traditionalist denomination, and a progressive denomination, explaining that this will be the case if the 2022 General Conference adopts the implementation of legislation for the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace through Separation that is properly before it.
The traditionalist wing of the Methodist denomination, which the Liberia Annual Conference identifies with basically upholds their denomination’s current Doctrinal and moral standards, teaches the biblical, traditional understanding of marriage as an institution between one man and one woman; and considers the practice of homosexuality as incompatible with Christian life.
According to Bishop Quire Jr., this wing of UMC does not bless homosexual marriages, neither does it ordain for ministry practicing homosexual persons. The Traditionalist Wing’s position is the official position of the global United Methodist Church since it was founded in 1968, noting on the other hand, the Centrists/Progressives wing of the Church advocates for the consecration of bishops and clergy who have homosexual partners, the blessing and celebration of homosexual marriages, and the ordination of LGBTQ persons for ministry in their church.
The UMC Bishop alleged that since the 1972 General Conference, the Progressive members of the church have put forward tons of petitions for a change in the language of our constitution to accommodate this lifestyle without success because it is just not biblical.
Despite General Conference’s repeated reaffirmations of their church’s teachings on all these issues, the Centrist-Progressive wing of the church continues to undermine the General Conference decisions by their action of disobedience.
Bishop Quire explained that in recent years, Centrist-Progressives have become not only defiant to decision of General Conference on these issues, but also violent with impunity. A significant number of our fellow bishops now support this cause against the will of the General Conference which is the highest decision-making body within global United Methodism.
Additionally, the Evangelical/Traditionalist Wing of the United Methodist church has also reached to the point where she can no longer tolerate a rebellion that undermines the spiritual health and growth of the church, adding because of this situation, they have become deeply divided.
He revealed that the differences of the two groups of Methodists have reached to the point of not reconciling, noting that it was against this background that the “Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace was negotiated by 16 UMC leaders to divide the Church.
According to Bishop Quire, the process was headed by the late Bishop John K. Yambasu of the Sierra Leone Annual Conference.
The global church has generally concluded that given the deep division that exists, an amicable separation is necessary so both wings of the church may go their separate ways to do ministry as they know best.
By pursuing the path of gracious separation, every local church, annual or central conference becoming a part of either the Evangelical/Traditionalist Wing of the church or the Progressive Wing of the church will go their separate ways along with all of their properties.
In view of all this development, what then is the anticipated position of the Liberia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church when the gracious separation happens? “First of all,” Bishop Quire noted, “we are uncompromising regarding our commitment to remain obedient disciples of Jesus Christ, and to growing the church in Liberia and Africa consistent with the traditional teaching of the Bible. Our objective is to be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ banded together in the common mission to which we have been called by the Father, to be obedient to Jesus, empowered by the Holy Spirit, ensuring that everyone hears the Gospel, and that those who respond become fully committed followers of Jesus,” he assured
The leader of the Liberia Annual Conference therefore said when the division happens; the Liberia Annual Conference will look forward to partnering with other United Methodist traditionalists all around the world to create a truly global Methodist church that is rooted in Scripture, and the great teachings of the Christian faith down through the ages.
“We want to be a part of the traditionalist Methodist Church that will make disciples of Jesus Christ. When the separation happens, we are aware that we may lose some of our current partners who are supporting some of our major projects. But we rather stand on the side of the Scripture and truth, than to compromise our faith in the Scripture and disobey Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,” he promised.
According to Bishop Quire, “We are also confident that the God whom we serve is not broke! God will sustain God’s Church. Our responsibility is to be obedient disciples. This is where I stand and this is where I invite all United Methodists in Liberia to stand along with me as we move into the future.”
Meanwhile, some members of the LAC of UMC deeply regret the decision by the high stations of the church to allow homosexuality, thus terming it as a complete violation of the gospel.