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Minnesota UMs Say No Ex-gays Allowed In Inclusive Study On Teen Sexual Identity and Suicide Risk

From: Ginger Holm [mailto:ginger@computer-renovators.com]
Sent: Wednesday, June 22, 2005 12:47 PM
To: ucmpage@ucmpage.org; revtom5@aol.com; Bishop@mnumc.org; confessingumc@iquest.net
Subject: Annual Conference

To whom it may concern, 
I would like to bring your attention a concern I have from the 2005 Minnesota Annual Conference. (a committee designed to carryout the 2004 General Conference Directive).
I believe the intent of the 2004 General Conference concerning resolution  #158 was changed at Annual Conference this month. [#158 petition #  40901  "Teen Sexual Identity and Suicide Risk page 410 Book of Resolutions]
The title and context of Item # 516 is clear that its purpose is to address the issue of suicide among teens who struggle with their sexual identity.  Yet the conference discussion clearly stated it's intent to excluded certain individuals within this category.

Bishop Dyck brought before us Item # 516 "Task Force on Teen Sexual Identity,"

I made a motion to include exgays in the task force. There was a second, and I spoke to the amendment: "It is important to include...this viewpoint....because...the majority of gays who desire to change their sexual orientation have a strong faith in God and it is therefore reasonable that they would seek the support and assistance of committees that are formed as a result of this Task Force."
My motion was followed by the comments in blue:
David L. Baird (conference group chair):  "....we should try to get as many perspectives....as possible (but) If we have one exgay and two gays I can see, ...(the committee) not getting a lot done. We should try to get a broad perspective." This was a speech AGAINST including the exgays yet FOR "a broad perspective"!  Does this make sense?
Val Robecheski (1st Church, St. Cloud), "...there's no such thing as exgay ..it's...an invented term by conservative people..." Let's assume that is true, then it is all the more important to include input from the exgay community.  It stands to reason that heterosexuals who are struggling with homosexual feelings would be at even greater risk of suicide then there homosexual counter parts.
Greg DePan (Glenwood United)  Made a  motion to amend my amendment by adding "15 year successful" before  "exgay person".  This was followed by laughter because they don't believe change is lasting.  "... someone with 15 years of experience.. .would have a perspective  that might be helpful, but, anything younger than that it's very difficult to ..be helpful."  I will be happy to recommend exgays who meet the 15 year criteria.  
Dan Johnson (Good Samaritan),  "...I'd...speak against the amendment because  (including exgays) would cloud the kind of support we're wanting to offer..." I thought the purpose of the Task Force is to determine what kind of "support" is needed to help these youth.  Or is the "Task Force" simply a way to force implementation of one specific viewpoint???   
Sean Mitchell (Riverhills Burnsville)  "I'm speaking for the amendment... I believe it is dangerous to say we want to have open, inclusive discussion, but yet limit the openness ...saying... we shouldn't have that opinion (that gays can change)..... saying that it's not something that can be changed... is to  deny the possibility that God can do that in someone's life. 
Other comments that directly addressed Item #516 were:  
Lyle Christianson - retired "We are not indicating exactly what kind of report we are expecting..."  The above comment suggest otherwise.  re: Val Robecheski and Dan Johnson. 

Susanne Moddez Wesley UMC, Minneapolis  "...the Task Force is to address teen suicide as it deals with sexual orientation... "  So why are we excluding certain individuals within this category?


As a survivor of teen suicide, I remember trying to find someone who could help. Instead I came to the perceived notion that no one cared about my problems - therefore, no one really care about me.
These feelings became very real once again as teens suffering with similar issues to mine have been excluded from Item # 516.  Regardless of the repetitious comments that "every individual is valuable", up to one third of our suicidal teens have been told that they are not as important as other teens - that their problems are not as important. I expect the suicidal teens who have been excluded from this legislation will feel the same way I did, and like me, it will push them one step closer to ending their lives.
However, the decision to limit this task force to sexual identity was made at the General conference, leaving no recourse to rectify the omission. But there is something we can do!  We can ensure that no one struggling with their sexual identity, whether perceived or real, will be left out. 
Or will we choose to believe that God's power is limited and He cannot help those who desire to change their sexual orientation. 
I respectfully request that Bishop Hopkins, prayerfully consider what action can be taken to keep this legislation focused on preventing teen suicide for ALL who fall within the specified category.   

In Christ,
Ginger Holm

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