GLENWOOD, Ark. – The Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church released a statement Wednesday night in response to the Glenwood United Methodist Church’s Facebook post about a Gay Pride event planned in Magic Springs.
Read the full statement below:
The mission of the Arkansas Conference of the UMC is to create vital congregations that make disciples of Jesus Christ, who make disciples equipped to transform lives, communities and the world. As followers of Jesus Christ we always want our beliefs and actions to help others grow closer to God and make God’s love, mercy and justice real in the world. As United Methodists we want to be welcoming to all people so they can know the love and acceptance of Jesus Christ.
Our Book of Discipline clearly states (¶161.G) our belief that all persons are individuals of sacred worth, created in the image of God. All persons need the ministry of the Church in their struggles for human fulfillment, as well as the spiritual and emotional care of a fellowship that enables reconciling relationships with God, with others, and with self. Although the United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching, we do affirm that God’s grace is available to all. We will seek to live together in Christian community, welcoming, forgiving, and loving one another, as Christ has loved and accepted us. We implore families and churches not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends. We commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons.
While we affirm the right of our pastors to share and speak from their faith and convictions, we do not and cannot condone any communication that does not align with these basic beliefs.
GLENWOOD, Ark. – A church in downtown Glenwood has a lot of welcome signs.
“It’s racist,” says Glenwood resident Lisa Mattorno.
Mattorno says Glenwood United Methodist Church isn’t so friendly.
“They’re trying to say, pretty much, you’re going to hell. It’s not accepted,” says Mattorno.
In Facebook posts published Tuesday morning, the church posted, “Please avoid taking your children to Magic Springs on June 30th. It is LGBT Pride Day.”
“You think if the biker rally hosted something from Magic Springs, you think they’d say don’t go to the biker rally? I doubt it,” says Mattorno.
In another post, the church posted, “I encouraged our members (especially those bringing children) to avoid attending on that day (for obvious reasons). While homosexuals are free to use the park any day they choose, “Gay Pride” events are typically “in your face” promotions of homosexuality and transgenderism.”
FOX 16 reached out to Glenwood United Methodist Church for a comment, the Pastor emailed back saying he does not do interviews on Facebook posts.
As of Tuesday evening, the church’s Facebook page has been deleted.
“We are a little shocked,” says Central Arkansas Pride Executive Director Zack Baker.
Baker says Central Arkansas Pride is organizing Out Days, a private group that will be going to Magic Springs on June 30th. The event is not being organized by the amusement park.
“I see more and more people who are supportive than people who are against us,” says Baker.
“Our Bible totally teaches against it,” says Glenwood resident Howard Hawthorn.
Hawthorn says no one should hate people who are gay but the church has the right to post what it wants.
“I can’t see forcing it on anybody but I can’t see other religions bashing them over it,” says Hawthorn.
It leaves Mattorno to wonder how the church can seem so friendly.
“How do you feel welcome when you post something like that,” says Mattorno.
A member of the church, who did not want to be identified, tells FOX 16 she was unaware of the post and people who are gay are welcome at the church.
Magic Springs officials say they were not aware of the post but the park welcomes all groups.