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B-N Pastor Welcomes Methodist Shift Allowing LGBTQ Inclusion

Sign outside First UMC Normal
Eric Stock
A sign outside First United Methodist Church in Normal indicates its support for inclusion as the global church considers lifting its ban against gay marriage and same-sex clergy.

A pastor at one of Bloomington-Normal's largest United Methodist churches said he believes a proposed split in the global church's stance on same-sex weddings and gay clergy won't divide his church.

Kathy and Kent King-Nobles
Credit Eric Stock / WGLT
Kathy and Kent King-Nobles are pastors at Normal First UMC.

The United Methodist Church announced a tentative agreement on Friday to allow churches that want to maintain its long-held ban on same-sex marriage to leave the denomination. Churches wishing to set up under a traditional faction would get $25 million from the UMC to start a new denomination.

Kent King-Nobles is co-pastor at First United Methodist Church in Normal with his wife Kathy. He said the church's culture is to care for each other, even when they disagree.

“The people that I think of in our church that would take a more traditional position on some issues and the people that I know that would take a more progressive or liberal (stance), I think they love each other,” he said. “I think they are glad to be part of the same church.”

King-Nobles said he supported the so-called "one church" plan that would have enabled individual churches to decide if they want to break from Methodist tradition and allow same-sex marriage and openly gay clergy, but the global church struck that down last February.

“I think it’s been clear there was going to be a separation, so my big question has been how messy and divisive was the separation going to be?” he asked. “It looks like to me all the different lobbying groups and some of the key leaders have put together a process where they can get in a room, have a mediator help them and come up with an amicable separation.”

King-Nobles said he expects all Methodist churches in the Twin Cities will favor LGBTQ inclusion.

“We need to not just go into a room with people that look and think just like us,” King-Nobles said. “We need to continue to be with others, but also we need to think about some of the people that we’ve left behind in possibly an emphasis on purity.”

King-Nobles added the congregation at Normal First UMC has been growing in recent years, unaffected by the political struggle over one of the Methodist churches' most hotly debated issues.

The agreement is pending formal adoption at the United Methodist Church's general conference in May.

You can also listen to the full interview:

WGLT's full interview.

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.