The United Methodist General Conference in Cleveland last week was the scene of many dramatic protests and arrests, but no dramatic change.Ultimately, current church policy on homosexuality was reaffirmed by two thirds of the delegates, while more conservative and liberal appeals were consistently voted down. Delegates began by rejecting a proposal requiring clergy to sign a statement that homosexuality is not God's perfect will for individuals, by a vote of 705 to 210. But on May 11, the delegates voted 628 to 337 to retain the current language in the Book of Discipline stating "the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching." The current language and standards of the Book of Discipline which forbid ministers to perform same sex unions were also upheld 646 to 294. The Judicial Council, the denomination's supreme court, also maintained current structure by reaffirming the Book of Discipline as the law of the United Methodist Church. The Judicial Council warned that individual conferences may not "legally negate, ignore or violate," the Book of Discipline's mandate to refrain from performing same sex unions without incurring the consequences outlined in the Book of Discipline.The council's ruling, in part, came as a response to the decision made by leaders of the California-Nevada Annual Conference not to prosecute the 68 clergy who participated in a same sex ceremony for two Methodist lesbians (ct, March 1, 1999, p.17).The votes took place in a heated environment fanned by the civil disobedience protests of homosexual rights advocates.
Plagues in the Church?
Mel White's Soulforce coalition organized a protest of about 350 Methodist supporters to draw attention to "the homophobia, racism, and colonialism ...1
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