The United Methodist Church voted resoundingly in May to uphold traditional views regarding homosexuals in church life, despite vocal opposition, arrests, and an emotional protest that temporarily shut down legislative proceedings at General Conference 2000. Two-thirds of the delegates meeting in Cleveland reaffirmed current church policy regarding homosexuality as
"incompatible with Christian teaching."
The majority of delegates voted to maintain language in the Methodist Book of Discipline that does not allow ordaining active homosexuals or clergy performing same-sex unions.But delegates also voted down more conservative proposals to force all clergy to sign statements denouncing homosexuality, and to fund ministries designed to help people who want to leave homosexuality.
"We do not believe this will divide the church," Bishop Robert Morgan of Louisville, Ky., told United Methodist News Service after two days of protests and arrests disrupted the conference. "Our commitment is to stay together."
Jimmy Creech, a Methodist pastor who was defrocked after performing a same-sex ceremony (CT, Jan. 10, p. 21), says the vote was only a temporary setback.
"The General Conference does not determine the future," he says.
Activists declare that they will continue to fight for full recognition of homosexuals, with the support of about a third of Methodists. Mel White's Soul force coalition, which organized a conference protest of about 350 Methodists, plans to draw 1,000 protesters—one for each Methodist delegate—to General Conference 2004. About 200 protesters were arrested in Cleveland, including Creech and Chicago pastor Gregory Dell, who is still under suspension because of the same-sex union he performed in 1998. Two bishops and ...1
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