The implications of queer sexuality in ministry: the experiences of queer clergy in the Methodist church of Southern Africa.
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The question of whether the Church should or should not solemnise same-sex unions is a burning issue in the churches in South Africa. The Methodist Church of Southern Africa has been in conversation over same-sex unions since the year 2001, to date. The conversation began with great hope of inclusion and affirmation when the 2001 conference adopted the principle that the Methodist Church seeks to be a community of love rather than rejection. This study evaluates whether the community of love has been in praxis or it is only reflected on paper. I have noticed that heterosexual people, especially men, have been in the forefront of the same-sex conversation in the Methodist Church. The LGBTIQ+ persons in the MCSA have been left behind in the conversation. Therefore, this study explores the lived experiences of queer ministers who minister in a church which holds different views on same-sex relationships. This study contributes to the growing literature on the same-sex debate in the Methodist Church and in the broader Christian communities. Lastly, the significance and uniqueness of this study is that it documents the lived experiences of queer clergy in the Methodist Church. Queer ministers encounter a lot of resistance from the church and society in general because of their sexuality. It is evident through the experiences of the participants that when people are open about their queer sexual identity in the church, problems arise, especially from homophobic congregants. As a result, queer ministers choose to remain in a closet in order to avoid alienation. There are four themes that seemed to be evident in the lives of all queer ministers interviewed. These themes were: stigma and shame, fear and rejection, trauma, and spirituality in the ministry. Although queer ministers are being alienated, they have maintained an undying passion for ministry and social justice as well as the desire to serve the people of God.