The Judicial Council of The United Methodist Church ruled this weekend that church law states the practice of homosexuality is "incompatible with Christian teaching" and a "chargeable offense" for Methodist ministers. The declaration runs counter to a March trial verdict that said a practicing homosexual minister was not guilty of practices contrary to church teachings.
The UMC's quadrennial General Conference is the stage for the latest denominational showdown over homosexuality. After admitting to being in a homosexual relationship, Karen Dammann was acquitted by a UMC court of the charge of a lifestyle conflicting with Christian teachings. The jury said, "We searched the [Book of] Discipline and did not find a declaration that 'the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching'."
The Book of Discipline says, "Since the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching, self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be accepted as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church."
Responding to a request from Arkansas delegate Fred H. Haustein, the Judicial Council said that the practice of homosexuality actually is "incompatible with Christian teaching," and it will now review Karen Dammann's acquittal. A statement is expected before the General Conference ends this week.
"Delegates have consistently voted by large margins to reject proposals more accepting of openly gay clergy," the Associated Press says. However, conservatives have had a hard time encouraging the church to enforce its rules. Scott N. Field, coordinator for a coalition of conservative and evangelical Methodist groups, said the ruling "does not end the debate [over homosexuality] because ...1
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