Gay Rights Protesters Storm General Conference (again)
In what has become a quadrennial tradition, many dozens of gay rights
activists associated with groups from within and without the church invaded
the plenary floor (where only delegates are allowed) to interrupt for a
lengthy protest of the evils of the United Methodist Church for not
abandoning Scriptural teaching on sexual morality.
I just got back from there.
Numerous delegates, bishops, and visitors stood in solidarity during the
protest. Interestingly (but unsurprisingly), every single staffer of the
denomination's Washington office (including Linda Bales and Neal Christie)
and staffer or volunteer from RCRC's team to lobby delegates (including that
pro-abortion group's PR Director Marjorie Signer) that I saw stood for such
solidarity with the homosexuality cause.
More on this to follow ...
- John Lomperis
Setting Aside Differences at GC08
On the Sunday before General Conference, my pastor mentioned the Conference
in the morning announcements. He added his hope that the “special interests”
that have besieged past General Conferences would be set aside along with
divisive issues like abortion, human sexuality, the environment, and
immigration. Indeed the Rev. Tom Berlin, the lead clergy delegate for
Virginia, mentioned the same hope in a commentary for UM News Service. “The
curtain may be rising on a new act in our story as a Christian
movement—unless forces of the past conspire to jam it shut.”
Sadly, the hope expressed by my pastor and Rev. Berlin have not been
exhibited at this General Conference. There is little agreement on social
issues like human sexuality, abortion or the war in Iraq. Each day there are
anti-war protests, pro-homosexuality demonstrations, immigration reform
rallies, one anti-Bush Library protester, and over a dozen daily leaflets
available from various caucus groups.
There is little theological agreement either. On a quick walk through the
official UMC bookstore, Cokesbury, one can find monographs by radical
Episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong, Jesus Seminar author Marcus Borg, and
“dissenting” United Methodist Bishop Joseph Sprague. One can also find a few
evangelical authors like orthodox Oxford don Alistair McGrath, Jesus Seminar
critic and New Testament scholar N.T. Wright, and Mere Christianity’s C.S.
Lewis. And there are those from the so-called “extreme center” like UM
Bishop Scott Jones (who, by the way, has a curious habit of avoiding taking
all leaflets offered to GC delegates and visitors each morning—as a former
professor, perhaps he’s already read enough).
Sorry Pastor John, General Conference hasn’t changed a bit.
‘Witness’ translates into ongoing conversations
By Cynthia B. Astle
A stark and somber witness May 1 by LGBT people and their supporters,
including delegates and bishops, called The United Methodist Church’s
retention of exclusionary policies “wrong and a sin.”
By the end of the day, dialogues around organizing the dignified
demonstration evolved into a commitment to continue “holy conversations” on
sensitive issues over the next four years.
Some 500 people peacefully walked – not “stormed,” as claimed by John
Lomperis of UM Action (click on “2008 General Conference weblog”) — onto the
floor of General Conference during a recess as a result of negotiations
between leaders of Common Witness and the Council of Bishops. Common Witness
was the name given to coordinated efforts on behalf of LGBT people by
Affirmation, Reconciling Ministries Network and Methodist Federation for
Social Action, with consultation from Soulforce.
Dressed in black, the witnesses expressed their grief at the actions taken
the day before by General Conference, which upheld the right of a pastor to
refuse membership to LGBT people and that the UMC holds homosexual practice
“incompatible with Christian teaching.”...>>>more