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UM Bishop Encourages New Pro-homosexuality Parents Group To Oppose Church Doctrine


CHICAGO - The Steering Committee of the Parents Reconciling Network (PRN) met in Chicago February 20-22 for their first official meeting as an organization. This group grew out of a witness of parents at the United Methodist Church's 2000 May General Conference.

PRN is an organization of United Methodist parents of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered children. It began as an informal group in 1999 when Bruce and Virginia (Ginny) Hilton, both United Methodist pastors and parents of a Gay child, brought parents together. Their purpose was to present a visible witness of parents in support of ending the denomination's anti-homosexual stance and providing their homosexual children the same rights as heterosexual United Methodists at the United Methodist Church's 2000 General Conference.

Over one hundred parents at General Conference wore badges saying "My Child is of Sacred Worth" to make themselves known and "to help others understand that [their] children are real human beings and not subjects of a vague philosophical issue to be endlessly debated."

The parents' strong and powerful presence affected many of the General Conference delegates. After General Conference, the parents decided that this work must continue, not only for the sake of their LGBT children, but also for the families of LGBT persons affected by the church's anti-gay stance. This newly expanded Parents Reconciling Network's purpose is to continue this work; its mission is to welcome and celebrate the acceptance of all God's children within the United Methodist Church.

Bishop Jack Tuell said, "I believe [parents] are the most effective proponents for change in our United Methodist position [with regard to homosexuality issues]."

The United Methodist Church's Social Principles state that homosexuality "is incompatible with Christian teaching." The United Methodist Discipline, the operating manual of the denomination, dictates that "self-avowed, practicing homosexuals" cannot be ordained in the United Methodist Church, that United Methodist pastors cannot conduct union services for their Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered parishioners, and that those services cannot be held in United Methodist churches.

The Parents Reconciling Network considers it unconscionable that their LGBT children cannot be included in full participation in the church in the same manner as heterosexual members of the denomination.

The Parents Reconciling Network's goals are identifying parents within the denomination, providing opportunities for connection and networking for United Methodist parents, creating worship experiences in which parents can worship together and support each other, and providing accurate faith-based resources addressing issues around homosexuality and the church. Plans were developed for an all-day parent Forum and workshops for parents to be held in conjunction with the Reconciling Ministries Network's Convocation to be held in Tacoma in July 2001.

Those attending the recent Chicago meeting included Larry Fox of Freeland, WA, and John and Linda Lewis of Great Falls, MT, representing the Western Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church; Adele Bennett of Houston, TX, and Kathy Massey, Denton, TX, of the South Central Jurisdiction; Helen King of Durham, NC, Southeast Jurisdiction; and Jamie Stroud, Philadelphia, national coordinator. Mike and Janice Neubecker, Brownstown, MI, and James and Yvonne Schwandt, Harper Woods, MI, both representing the North Central Jurisdiction, were unable to attend. The steering committee is still seeking two representing the Northeast Jurisdiction. Bruce and Virginia Hilton, the original founders, and Paul and Betty Beeman (Paul is a recent past-president of PFLAG) at-large members of the Steering Committee, were unable to attend.

CONTACT INFORMATION: Jamie B. Stroud, PRN national coordinator (215-844-3084, jstroud@sprintmail.com, prn@rcp.org).


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