Oak Lawn UMC defies bishop, appoints 2 LGBTQ ministers

The senior pastor of a United Methodist Church in Dallas is calling out the bishop for what she calls discrimination.

The bishop is refusing to accept two people as pastors at Oak Lawn United Methodist, a church known for welcoming all people.

Both have gone through the extensive Methodist licensing process to become local church pastors but are openly gay.

The senior pastor is defying the bishop and naming them ministers on staff.

"We’re not just doing lip service when we say all are welcome here. We’re not just doing lip service when we say you matter, that you are of sacred worth and of sacred value, and we recognize the call of God upon your life," said Rachel Baughman, Oak Lawn United Methodist Church’s senior pastor.

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"I continue to be hopeful that at some point the United Methodist Church can be a fully inclusive church," said Ryan Wagner, a minister at the church.

The office of the Dallas bishop responded with the following statement:

"The North Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church has been intentional in supporting and serving in ministry with LGBTQIA+ individuals, recognizing and honoring their sacred worth as beloved children of God.  

Rev. Edlen Cowley, Metro District Superintendent for the North Texas Conference, attended Sunday’s worship service at Oak Lawn UMC on behalf of the Cabinet and has been in regular conversation with the church’s leadership. 

The conference continues to operate in accordance with United Methodist policies as outlined in The Book of Discipline, while also identifying new and creative opportunities to develop leaders within the Discipline’s current bounds. Over the past several years, the confer­­ence has seen members of the LGBTQIA+ community step into leadership roles and serve in new ways. 

It is not the conference’s practice to make public the rationale for appointments or other personnel matters. Please know that it is not rare – for a host of reasons – for licensed local pastors to be without an appointment, nor for a church’s request for a specific pastor to be denied. For context, right now in the North Texas Conference there are 20 licensed local pastors without appointments, including more than half of the most recently licensed class. In The United Methodist Church, licensed local pastors are not guaranteed an appointment, but are subject to an appointment being available, especially in contexts where there is not an elder present to perform sacraments."

Church doctrine forbids appointing pastors who "self-avowed and practicing homosexuals."