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UM Officials Ignore Church Law To Promote Celebration Of Homosexuality At Official Church Convention Center

Excerpts From Enterprise-Mountaineer:

Gay conference draws criticism


Group promotes inclusion; support is high for conference at Lake Junaluska

A four-day conference billed by detractors as a “homosexual rally” will be held at Lake Junaluska on the Labor Day weekend.

At least one national religious group is questioning the Southeastern Jurisdictional Administration Council, which oversees the United Methodist Church facilities at Lake Junaluska, for allowing the meeting sponsored by The Reconciling Ministries on church grounds.

Mark Tooley, director of the United Methodist committee for the Institute on Religion and Democracy, prepared a news release outlining objections to the conference and invited those who disagree with the SEJAC decision to contact Jimmy Carr, the organization’s executive director.

Carr, however, said comments, letters and e-mails — about 250 so far — support the conference by a margin of two-to-one. He said the council is confident the decision is the right one.

The event in question is a “Hearts on Fire” conference sponsored by The Reconciling Ministries Network. This network promotes the inclusion of people of all sexual orientations as full participants in the United Methodist Church, both in policy and practice, according to the SEJAC Web site.

Tooley said the Institute on Religion and Democracy is dedicated to renewing and reforming main line Protestant denominations and supports traditional teachings.

“Homosexuality has been debated every four years since 1972 in the United Methodist Church, and there has been language in the church’s book of law since then stating homosexual practices are incompatible with Christian teaching,” Tooley said in a phone interview. “The group sponsoring ‘Hearts on Fire’ wishes to delete those teachings.”

...Lake Junaluska is owned by the United Methodist Church, and policies are in place to deny use of the facilities to groups who are in opposition to the church, Tooley said. That should have been done when the “Hearts on Fire” conference was proposed, he added.

Tooley said while he has little hope SEJAC officials will cancel the conference, he would like to see them realize they have made a mistake and not allow future conferences of this nature to be held at Lake Junaluska...

....Carr said the administrative council sought church legal advice before deciding to rent the Lake Junaluska facilities to The Reconciling Ministries.

“From a legal standpoint, we don’t feel like we are breaking the discipline. We don’t think it was a mistake,” Carr said. “We were very caring and cautious as we made that decision. We counseled with leadership on the administrative council.”...

....Carr said while it is true the Methodist church believes homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching — as Tooley emphasizes in his statement — it was the subsequent text in the church policy that prompted SEJAC to welcome the “Hearts on Fire” conference.

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