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Bishops express 'pain' over church policy on gay, lesbian issues


TITLE: Bishops Express Pain Over Gay Issue

Release # 010 {2974} April 18, 1996 General Conference '96

DENVER (UMNS) -- Fifteen United Methodist bishops -- 11 active, four retired -- released a statement here April 18 expressing "pain ... over our personal convictions that are contradicted by the proscriptions in the (Book of) Discipline against gay and lesbians within our church and within our ordained and diaconal ministers."

Nevertheless, they affirmed their commitment to uphold the Discipline of the church.

"We believe it is time to break the silence and state where we are on this issue that is hurting and silencing countless faithful Christians," the bishops say. "We will continue our responsibility to the order and discipline of the church but urge United Methodist churches to open the doors in gracious hospitality to all brothers and sisters in the faith."

Portions of the Disciplinary paragraphs to which the bishops refer say:

-- the church does not condone the practice ofhomosexuality and considers the practice "incompatible with Christian teaching";

-- "self-avowed practicinng homosexuals are not to be accepted as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve The United Methodist Church";

-- no churchwide money may be given to any "gay caucus or group" or be used to "promote the acceptance of homosexuality."

The 11 active bishops signing the statement were: Judith Craig, Ohio West Area; William W. Dew Jr., Portland (Ore.) Area; Calvin D. McConnell, Seattle Area; Susan M. Morrison, Philadelphia Area; Fritz Mutti, Kansas Area; Donald A. Ott, Michigan Area; Sharon Zimmerman Rader, Wisconsin Area; Roy I. Sano, Los Angeles Area; Mary Ann Swenson, Denver Area; Melvin G. Talbert, San Francisco Area; and Joseph H. Yeakel, Washington Area.   Retired bishops signing the statement were: C. Dale White, Newport, R.I.; Jesse R. DeWitt, Naperville, Ill.; Leontine T.C. Kelly, San Mateo, Calif.; and Melvin G. Wheatley Jr., Laguna Hills, Calif.


Full text of the bishops' statement:

We the undersigned bishops wish to affirm the commitment made at our consecration to the vows to uphold the Discipline of the church. However, we must confess the pain we feel over our personal convictions that are contradicted by the proscriptions in the Discipline against gay and lesbian persons within our church and within our ordained and diaconal ministers. Those sections are paragraphs 71F (last paragraph); 402.2; 906.12; and footnote, p. 205.

We believe it is time to break the silence and state where we are on this issue that is hurting and silencing countless faithful Christians. We will continue our responsibility to order and discipline of the church but urge our United Methodist churches to open the doors in gracioius hospitality to all our brothers and sisters in the faith.

-- Tom McAnally 

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