KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- United Methodists have spoken, voting to keep their stance on same-sex marriages and gay clergy. But some members here in the metro are frustrated with the decision.
More than 800,000 delegates from around the country and the world spent several days in St. Louis for the United Methodist Church General Conference. On Tuesday, church leaders finally decided whether to change denomination rules.
By a vote of 449 to 374, the UMC rejected the "One Church" plan to allow same-sex marriages and gay clergy.
"I'm not worried. I'm not anxious," said Pastor Adam Hamilton from the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood. His 22,000-member congregation is the largest in the denomination. Hamilton supported permitting each church to choose its own policies.
"The Church of the Resurrection has not changed. We are a place that's welcoming for everybody. We've been fighting for that here during this conference in St. Louis," Hamilton said in a post on Facebook.
The UMC voted to pass what's called the "Traditional" plan. It states homosexuality is not compatible and adds penalties for clergy who violate the plan.
"Today's vote definitely sets things back. It actually makes things stricter," said Ceri Anne, who identifies herself as a "trans-Christian."
She's been a member of United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood for four years. She, like many others, also fears that, because UCM leaders have been split on these issues, it could lead to a split in the denomination.
"The vote moves things back. It lays out penalties for being affirming. It lays out penalties for performing a same-sex wedding or allowing it on your property," Ceri Anne said.
Inoru Wade came out as an openly gay, Christian man in 2016. He's also a board member for the Kansas City Center for Inclusion.
"It's a very disheartening day, but we're not without resolve. I also think those who want to serve their community who happen to be LGBTQ-plus and Christian, they need to have an avenue to do so," Wade said.
"I feel actually kind of excited because I think we're in a place where there's an opportunity for some new things to happen, and we're gonna be right in the center of that as a congregation. I hope that's still in the United Methodist Church," Hamilton said.