(RNS) — As the United Methodist Church has spent decades debating the place of LGBTQ Christians in its ministries, the Rev. Adam Hamilton has emerged as “the Pied Piper for Methodists in the middle.”
At the global denomination’s General Conference meetings in 2012 and 2016, Hamilton — who pastors the largest United Methodist church in the United States — supported measures that would have allowed United Methodists to disagree with its rulebook, which claims the “practice of homosexuality” is “incompatible” with Christian teaching.
More recently, he backed the so-called One Church Plan, which would have allowed churches and regional bodies known as annual conferences to decide whether to allow LGBTQ clergy and same-sex marriage.
In February, that plan — which also had been recommended by the denomination’s Council of Bishops — failed at a special session of the General Conference in St. Louis. Instead, delegates adopted what’s known as the Traditional Plan, which strengthened language in the denomination’s Book of Discipline barring LGBTQ United Methodists from marriage and ministry.
In response, Hamilton convened a meeting of more than 600 United Methodists from every annual conference in the country at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kan., to discuss what’s next for the second-largest Protestant denomination in the U.S.