There has been a lot of turmoil lately in the United Methodist Church over some of our clergy rather vocally declaring that they will no longer follow the ordination vows that they chose to make to God and the rest of us in the denomination to uphold our biblical policies forbidding the conducting of “ceremonies which celebrate homosexual unions.”
Amidst all of the heat and controversy, and beyond anything I or others have said or written about this, it is worth pausing, breathing, and taking a step back to see the bigger statistical picture.
According to the latest publicly available statistics of which I am aware of from the UMC’s General Council on Finance and Administration, there were 44,800 United Methodist clergy in the United States in 2012.
Of these 44,800 clergy, only 783 of them (over 40 percent of which are retired) have signed the widely-noted pledge to perform same-sex unions. This means less than two percent of all United Methodist clergy in the United States have even blusteringly talked about breaking their ordination vows, which is much easier to do than actually face charges for doing a publicity-stunt union. And this is before we even factor in the 10,845 United Methodist clergy in Africa, Asia, and Europe.
Yes, there are serious issues of accountability, faithfulness, and truly compassionate Christian ministry for all people that need to be addressed, and which UMAction will continue addressing.
But in the meantime, 99 percent of United Methodist clergy should not think that a few high-profile antics make the 1-percenters larger or more impressive than they actually are.