United Methodism officially prohibits actively homosexual clergy or any celebration of same sex rites.Methodism in Latin America, Africa and Asia typically remains conservative on most issues, especially homosexuality, but usually including abortion, though not contraception.The issue is still a rallying cry for conservatives, who recently lost a legal fight to make the Church and Society agency adhere to its charter and focus exclusively on alcohol and temperance issues.More than a simple say-no-to-booze campaign, Alcohol Free Lent is about reflection, said Abrams.United Methodism is the largest denomination, with 13 million globally, of whom 7 million are in the USA.Methodist-Catholic exchanges inevitably include references to John Wesley’s “Letter to a Roman Catholic,” which Pope Francis cited in his remarks to the delegation.
The father and son who founded the Welch's grape juice company were not only good Methodists but also savvy businessmen who saw a huge market in pushing juice for communion to temperance-minded churches.
And by the early 20th century, the church endorsed Prohibition and required Methodist ministers to pledge abstinence from alcohol.
It wasn't until the 1950s and '60s that the church began to soften that stance.
For some conservatives, the churchwide Alcohol Free Lent campaign is a welcome reminder of the Methodists' temperance heritage—"a brief flicker of remembrance of those origins," said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy.
"For several decades the board has mostly neglected its call, so it's positive that at least during Lent they are upholding that," said Tooley, whose Washington-based institute is a frequent critic of the UMC General Board of Church and Society.
One Catholic source says that in “exploring both shared and diverging understandings of holy living and holy dying, the report will address areas of Catholic devotional practice which have traditionally been problematic for Methodists.” So likely the declaration won’t address hot button topics like abortion, contraception, and homosexuality. Perhaps there needs to be a new round of Methodist-Catholic dialogue focused on Christian teaching about ethical issues.