PORTLAND, Ore. (BP) — Southern Baptist leaders hailed the United Methodist Church’s (UMC) reversal of its support for abortion rights at its latest conference — a step taken by the Southern Baptist Convention decades before.
Delegates to the UMC’s General Conference — held every four years and which met May 10–20 in Portland, Oregon — voted to remove the denomination’s entities from the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, an abortion rights coalition, it had helped found more than four decades earlier and approved the deletion of a 1976 resolution that affirmed the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.
Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said, “Christians of all denominations should praise God for the United Methodist Church’s historic repudiation of abortion. This is good news for orthodoxy, for the unity of the Body of Christ and for the vulnerable unborn and their mothers.”
C. Ben Mitchell, provost and professor of moral philosophy at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, said, “We gladly affirm the conference’s decision to distance itself from RCRC, and we joyfully celebrate the move towards a more biblically faithful stand on the life issues.
“Southern Baptists will remember that we were also on the wrong side of the pro-life divide in the late 1960s and early 1970s. We welcome our brothers and sisters into the fold,” Mitchell said. “We happily join hands with all people of good will who advocate for the sanctity of human life from womb to tomb.”
On another hot-button issue, however, the General Conference voted to postpone action on homosexuality.
The delegates in Portland voted 428 to 405 in support of a recommendation from the UMC’s Council of Bishops to defer votes on “human sexuality” at the conference.
The controversy regarding homosexuality threatens to split the UMC. Some UMC pastors have performed same-sex weddings, and more than 100 ministers or ministerial candidates in America openly confessed they are gay as the General Conference opened, according to the United Methodist News Service.