Sunday afternoon will see United Methodists from throughout North Central Alabama gather on the campus of Birmingham Southern College for their annual conference. This year’s session takes place through June 4. Shortly after the opening service concludes at approximately 3:30 p.m., many are asking folks to take part in a public group prayer on campus between the Bill Battle Coliseum and the Kennedy Art Center/Azar Art Studios in order to draw attention to growing efforts to seeking greater inclusion in the church.
The following explanation of the event was taken from its press release:
There is a growing concern among some clergy in the UMC that their ability to be pastors to LGBTQ persons, their friends, and their families is compromised by church rules which forbid our officiating at same-sex marriages and which gag prayers of blessing for them.
The rule against the ordination of “self-avowed, practicing” homosexual persons is essentially a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for clergy. It is believed that the church will continue to alienate young people and damage their evangelistic witness by continuing to support anti-gay policies which do not represent the best scholarship, biblical interpretation or missional outreach of the United Methodist Church.
One of the organizers of the effort, Stephanie Arnold, sat down for an interview with WBRC Fox 6 that aired on May 29. Organizers have created a fan page on Facebook and already created a follow-up event to take place downtown at First Church Birmingham on July 22. The rain location for the June 2 group prayer is the college’s library. Its event listing on Facebook providing a little more detail as to the schedule for the afternoon.