Stances of Faiths on LGBT Issues: African Methodist Episcopal Church
Since 2003, leaders of the 2.5 million-member African Methodist Episcopal Church have made several public statements declaring the denomination’s opposition to the ordination of openly gay clergy members and marriage rights for same-sex couples. It has, to date, remained silent on transgender members.
Openly Gay Clergy
In August 2003, after an article in USA Today incorrectly stated that the African Methodist Episcopal Church ordained gay ministers, Bishop Richard Franklin Norris issued this statement refuting that position and instructed all AME pastors to read it to their congregations:
“The official position of the African Methodist Episcopal Church is not in favor of the ordination of openly gay persons to the ranks of clergy in our church. This position reaffirms our published position papers, public statements and prior rulings, all of which indicate that we do not support the ordination of openly gay persons.”
At the AME national convention in July 2004, delegates voted to forbid ministers from performing marriage or civil union ceremonies for same-sex couples. The vote was unanimous, and there was no debate on the topic. The decision marked the first vote on the issue of marriage rights for same-sex couples by a predominantly African-American denomination.
Earlier in the year, before marriage became legal for same-sex couples in Massachusetts, the Rev. Gregory G. Groover Sr., an AME pastor in Boston, explained why AME preachers opposed the move. He was quoted in the Boston Globe on Feb. 10, 2004, as saying:
“As black preachers, we are progressive in our social consciousness, and in our political ideology as an oppressed people we will often be against the status quo, but our first call is to hear the voice of God in our Scriptures, and where an issue clearly contradicts our understanding of Scripture, we have to apply that understanding.”
Resources for LGBT African-American Christians
- Operation Rebirth offers a list of GLB-affirming churches.
If you would like to communicate with the African Methodist Episcopal Church, here is their mailing address:
African Methodist Episcopal Church
500 8th Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203