The United Methodist Church (UMC) has officially denounced homosexuality since 1972. The Bishop Melvin E. Wheatley, Jr.’s pioneering work toward LGBTQ inclusion, however, remains significant almost forty years later. Wheatley was the leader of the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference (regional body) of the UMC from 1972–84. After appointing the UMC’s first openly gay pastor in Denver in 1981, Wheatley wrote a letter to his clergy colleagues that explicitly stated his conviction that homosexuality is not a sin, despite the church’s anti-homosexual teachings. In this incendiary statement, Bishop Wheatley challenges the audience’s conceptions of LGBTQ identities and religion by disassociating sexual orientation from the spiritual gifts that make an individual fit for ministry in the UMC. Wheatley’s actions set a precedent of dissent within the UMC, forging a path towards LGBTQ ordination, although the official stance of the church remains exclusionary.
 Elaine Woo, “Melvin E. Wheatley Dies at 93; Methodist Bishop Caused a Stir by Appointing Gay Pastor,” Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, CA), Mar. 15, 2009.
Religions; Religions -- Philosophy; Religions -- History
Relics, Remnants, and Religion: an Undergraduate Journal in Religious Studies
The University of Puget Sound
"“A Mysterious Gift of God’s Grace:” Sexuality and Ordination in United Methodism,"
Relics, Remnants, and Religion: An Undergraduate Journal in Religious Studies: Vol. 2
, Article 12.
Available at: http://soundideas.pugetsound.edu/relics/vol2/iss1/12