A comparison of two actions of Methodists at the national and international level that were discriminatory; The anti-African American vote of the 1939 Unification Conference that created the racially segregated Central Jurisdiction and the 1972 General Conference vote that relegated LGBTQ persons and same gender loving couples to second class status in the denomination.

60 years ago I was ordained a Deacon in the Boston University Chapel by Bishop John Wesley Lord. I had been qualified for the ordination by the North Carolina Conference of the racially segregated Central Jurisdiction and was ordained as a “courtesy” by the New England Conference. Additionally, I received the Distinguished Alumni Award because I was one of the founders of United Methodists of Color (UMOC). My wife, Grace, and I attend the UMC of Red Bank, NJ., a Reconciling Congregation. I’ve always considered myself a member of the RMN family.

My ministry in the Methodist and now United Methodist Church has been shaped by a denomination that has a history of anti-black, anti-women, and now anti-LGBTQ discrimination.

I cannot remember the number of times I have said and written, “The more things change, the more they remain the same.”

The History of American Methodism, volume 3, published in 1964 by Abingdon Press says this about the 1939 creation of the Central Jurisdiction, “..in 1960 it was obvious that the union was not yet socially and psychologically complete.” I have wondered why it was not said that the creation of the Central Jurisdiction was not theologically, Christologically, and biblically complete as well?

And I wonder why today’s anti-LGBTQ UMC language and legislation, claiming to be biblically-rooted, is viewed as being “socially and psychologically complete?”

I write the above as I continue to hope that The UMC will become a 21st century Church. I prayerfully hope that the Council of Bishops, the “Commission,” and the Judicial Council will determine finally that since 1972 The UMC has practiced discrimination against LGBTQ persons. Despite its being clothed in Scripture and Tradition!

It was said of those who would not acknowledge the financial ills of our nation; “It’s the economy stupid!” United Methodist leaders, our anti-LGBTQ language and legislation; “It’s DISCRIMINATION, and you are not stupid.”

Rev. Gil Caldwell

The Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell is a retired United Methodist Minister who lives in Asbury Park, N.J. He was active in the Massachusetts unit of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and participated in the civil-rights movement throughout the nation. In 2000, he, with others, organized the RMN Extension ministry United Methodists of Color for a Fully Inclusive Church (UMOC), an organization committed to the full inclusion of LGBT people in every aspect of church and society. His recent book, Something Within: Works by Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell is available from Church Within A Church. Gil's advocacy efforts were also featured in the film "From Selma to Stonewall - Are We There Yet?" Learn more at truthinprogress.com

Latest posts by Rev. Gil Caldwell (see all)

Share This