BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Hundreds of United Methodists from across Alabama disagree with the denomination’s stance against same-sex marriage or gay deacons.

On Thursday, approximately 558 United Methodists signed an open letter to the LGBTQ community, apologizing for the denomination’s failure to change its stance against homosexuality or to lift its long-held ban on same-sex marriage. During the denomination’s 2019 General Conference in St. Louis, those stances were upheld.

In June, there was a movement during the North Alabama Conference of The United Methodist Church’s annual conference in Huntsville to issue an apology to the gay community for the 2019 General Conference, but that motion failed as well.

The letter was published Thursday on

“For every time that someone in the church has hurt you because of who you are or who you love, we are deeply sorry; we hurt with you, and we are committed to pursuing God’s love and justice with you,” the letter read.

Eden Johnson, a member of Birmingham First United Methodist Church, co-wrote the letter with Henry Gibson and said the purpose of the letter was to show both support for the gay community and unity within the church.

“We want to come together for them and we are heartbroken about this,” Johnson said.

Recently, the denomination has faced a “financial hangover.” According to the United Methodist News Service, the  January-to-June annual conference apportionment remittances to the seven general church funds were $4.9 million behind the first half of 2018.

Some believe the actions during the General Conference had something to do with its financial issues.

“There was an initial reaction to St. Louis that just happened dramatically, and I think we ought to name that,” said North Texas Conference Bishop Michael McKee, who also serves as board president of the UMC’s General Council on Finance and Administration, in the UMNS story.

The majority of the apology letter’s signers were members of Alabama UMC churches, although 10 were from outside the state.

Moving forward, Johnson hopes that a transition can take place within the church to be more accepting of other people.

“I think it (UMC) can be more including and more affirming to the (LGBTQ) community,” she said. “We are on the side of the vision of Methodism and be and what it means to be a Methodist.”