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UM Bishops "Coming Out" To Join Non-UM Homosexuals Illegal Crashing Of General Conference Session


Called Out has received this news release from Mel White of Soulforce.



CLEVELAND (May 9, 2000) In an unprecedented step last night, bishops of the United Methodist Church at its General Conference decided to join an act of civil disobedience in protest of the church's current policies on sexual orientation. For nearly 30 years, the church has denied full participation of persons in the based upon their sexual orientation. The bishops announced their decision in a meeting with the Rev. Dr. Mel White, co-founder of Soulforce, an interfaith coalition of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people of faith and their allies dedicated to working for social justice for sexual minorities.

WHO: Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mohandas Gandhi Yolanda King, eldest daughter of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The Rev. Dr. James Lawson, United Methodist pastor and friend and co-worker with Dr. King The Rev. Dr. Robert Graetz, the white Lutheran pastor whose home was bombed because of his stand with Dr. King during the Montgomery bus boycott Dr. Rodney Powell, a leader of the nonviolent student movement of the '50s & '60s and co-worker with Dr. King Bishop C. Joseph Sprague from the Northern Illinois annual conference and a number of other bishops The Rev. Dr. Mel White, co-founder, Soulforce At least 200 members of the Soulforce delegation, all of whom have signed a pledge of nonviolence

WHAT: Gandhi and the other civil rights leaders, the United Methodist bishops and the Soulforce delegation will carry their silent prayer vigil on behalf of sexual minorities to the floor of the conference center. Cleveland police are standing by to arrest those who participate in the action. Participants will conduct themselves according to Gandhi and King's principles of nonviolent civil disobedience, and all participants are required to sign a pledge of nonviolence before participating.

WHEN: Wednesday, May 10, 7 a.m.

WHERE: Cleveland Convention Center, 500 Lakeside

WHY: To protest the United Methodist Church's current policies on sexual orientation, which are used to exclude gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people of faith from full participation in the church. The civil disobedience will also signal to all of Christendom that this tragic debate on sexual minorities must end. Sexual minorities areGod's children, too.

HOW: Civil rights leaders will train participants in the nonviolent methods of civil disobedience in a session at Cleveland State University, University Center Auditorium, 2121 Euclid. Other participants who are unable to attend the Tuesday evening session will be trained on Wednesday beginning at 6 a.m.

Media are invited to attend the Tuesday evening training on nonviolence, which will begin with a press conference at 7 p.m. at Cleveland State University, University Center Auditorium, 2121 Euclid. The press conference will include interview and photo opportunities with Gandhi, Ms. King and the other participating civil rights leaders.

Media also are invited to attend the civil disobedience on Wednesday morning, beginning with a rally at the Convention Center, Mall B, at 7 a.m., followed by the civil disobedience action at 8 a.m.

Media coordinators: Diana G. Westbrook Laura Montgomery Rutt (804) 837-1568 [cell] (949) 233-3592 [cell]

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