Stop living in denial

Retired Bishop Don Ott carries with him a broken shard from a chalice that was smashed at the 2004 United Methodist General Conference. He is hoping 2012 will be the year he can leave it at the altar of this conference as a symbol that the church has welcomed homosexuals as full members.

Under a large white tent, just a few steps from the Tampa Convention Center, people poured into a noon press conference urging the denomination to remove a ban on gay clergy. The press conference was sponsored by Love Your Neighbor, a coalition that supports full and equal inclusion of all in The United Methodist Church.

The 2012 United Methodist General Conference, the denomination’s top lawmaking body, is meeting in Tampa, Fla., to make decisions about church policy. The body will be considering more than 70 pieces of legislation related to gay rights.

Ott said the church is “in denial” about ordaining and including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people.

Ott and retired Bishop Sharon Zimmerman Rader, Cheryl Anderson, a professor at United Methodist Garrett-Evangelical Seminary, and Pamela Lightsey, professor at Boston University School of Theology, spoke at the conference in support of a statement signed by 36 retired bishops in 2011.

The statement asks the church to remove a paragraph in the Book of Discipline, the denomination’s law book, that says “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” as well as language that states self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.

Lightsey said often some conservative groups use black people as “poster children” and say black people do not support gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons.

As a black, lesbian woman in The United Methodist Church she said she was standing up as “another face.”

“It was important for me to say, ‘No you are wrong, there are black people in America who do support the ordination of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered persons.

“We are a reality and no longer will we live in silence.”

Sign up for our newsletter!

SUBSCRIBE

Latest News

General Church
The Rev. Timothy Bruster speaks with fellow delegates from Central Texas Conference during the special General Conference in February. Bruster made a motion, which was passed, to request a declaratory decision by the Judicial Council on “the constitutionality, meaning, application and effect” of the Traditional Plan. Photo courtesy of J. Vance Morton, Central Texas Conference.

Top court meets in aftermath of GC2019

In spring meeting, United Methodist Judicial Council to review Traditional Plan and disaffiliation legislation adopted by special General Conference.
General Church
An empty collection plate.  Photo illustration by Kathleen Barry, UMNS.

Conference offers guidance on apportionment alternatives

California-Pacific Conference leaders advise churches on giving options including withholding or redirecting apportionment contributions in protest of 2019 General Conference.
General Church
Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey observes the results from a Feb. 26 vote for the Traditional Plan, which affirms the church’s current bans on ordaining LGBTQ clergy and officiating at or hosting same-sex marriage. The vote came on the last day of the 2019 General Conference in St. Louis. Photo by Paul Jeffrey, UMNS.

Outcome of General Conference bittersweet

United Methodist traditionalists say General Conference vote was best way forward for denomination, but it probably means a split is coming.