Days after the end of their General Conference, the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) has decided to appoint a committee for research into sexual ethics discernment.
The AME is one of the larger Black mainstream denominations, with about 7,000 congregations.
The denomination gathered for their annual General Convention last week in Jacksonville, where various business matters. These included addressing Black Lives Matter, voting rights, and several other cultural issues. The AME also appointed four new bishops to office, including their first biracial bishop.
In the days after, a resolution was submitted and approved to create a sexual ethics discernment committee. The committee would strive to identify, study and explain all relevant Scriptures to sexual orientation and gender identities before relating them to AME's doctrines and traditions.
The committee will also “will hear the testimonials of LGBTQ+ individuals of African descent within and beyond the AME Church so that we’re hearing the voices of the people who are affected by the position of the church on these matters.”
Bishop Anne Henning Byfield told Religion News Service that "By having the discernment committee, it really allows us to pray, to seek God’s leadership in this and to give all persons — but particularly persons in the LGBTQ community in our congregations — (the opportunity) to begin to share and talk." The committee will be comprised of 40 church members and lead by one of the bishops.
Rev Jennifer Leath, who co-authored the resolution, told RNS that she is disappointed that AME leadership has not done more before answering. However, she recognizes that “we have to take time and necessary steps to understand the will of the body", particularly in a denomination with 2.5 million members worldwide.