During the United Methodist quadrennial General Conference, which
takes place in Fort Worth, Texas, on April 23-May 2, 2008, Affirmation
will post a daily newsletter.
Contents (plain text stories pasted below but not the poems):
No Progress On Human Sexuality Paragraph in Social Principles,
Observations From Someone New to General Conference, We're Not Your
Punching Bags, This 'n' that, Poems: INCARNATION, To The Chair and
From The Voiceless.
The complete, illustrated newsletter is available in PDF format at:
Out #9, May 1, 2008 (PDF, 4 pp, 180K)
No Progress On Human Sexuality Paragraph in Social Principles
By Gary Shephard, Affirmation Newsletter Staff
It was much like a root canal that went on longer than expected with
the anesthetic wearing off with no way to signal the dentist.
Amendments to the majority report. Amendments to the minority report.
Points of order. Arguments for. Arguments against. All afternoon it
As of the Affirmation newsletter deadline, the majority report on
161.G was replaced by the minority report, and the minority report was
While we had hoped that this indeed might be the year when this
paragraph might change, we find that the heart of the majority is not
yet with us. This, however, was not the major change we were looking
for at this GC. We did make a few improvements in other areas. As of
the April 30 press deadline we're still waiting on the church
membership decision, and we're still waiting on the transgender
issues. Unfortunately we can't hold the newsletter waiting for the
evening session. We'll have a full report in our Friday newsletter.
Observations From Someone New to General Conference
by Tina Seitz
During the first few days of General Conference, I had the great honor
of working with a highly dedicated group of people trying to make our
church what it should be: a church that accepts everyone. I have
belonged to other denominations, but needed to leave because they
could not accept me as a transgender woman. I decided to investigate
the UMC because of the recent stories where the Rev. Drew Phoenix was
reaffirmed in his elder status after having transitioned into living
as the man he was always intended to be. Due to some of the activism I
was involved with in my home town near Detroit, I was given this
opportunity to work alongside all the dedicated people trying to make
a difference on everyone's behalf. I had only a short time that I
could spend with all of you, and my biggest regret is that I could not
stay longer to help in this great cause.
I have given speeches on what it means when a church is not fully
inclusive, what message that sends out to society. There are too many
youths living on the street because their parents' church said they
were sinners for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual or queer.
There are beatings that happen every week, and already five murders in
our country this year of LGBTQ people just trying to be who they were
born to be. Why aren't they accepted? The church says they are
sinners. These beatings and murders rarely make the news because
society doesn't care about LGBTQ people. Society feels as if we don't
matter, that our lives are meaningless because of whom we are, because
this is the message the church tells society.
This is why your work in Fort Worth is so very important. It's time
for our church to say that we do matter, that we are of sacred worth.
It's time for the UMC to stand as one and tell society that the
harassment, the beatings, and the murders must end. It is time for the
UMC to be fully inclusive of all LGBTQ people at all levels.
Since I joined my church, I have been welcomed within my congregation.
In Fort Worth, I was again welcomed by all the people from the many
advocacy groups working together for full inclusion. I wrote this to
say thank you to all of you, because regardless of what happens for
the rest of General Conference, all of you changed my life forever,
and know that the work you do is truly the work of the Lord. Thank you
We're Not Your Punching Bags
[Editor's note this article has to be anonymous to protect the
identity of one district's Board of Ordained Ministry.]
"The Opportunity to be threatened, humiliated and to live in fear of
being beaten to death is the only `special right' our culture bestows
on homosexuals." Diane Carman, Denver Post (This quote comes from
the hate crime.org web site with Dennis Shepard's statement to the
court on 11/04/1999.)
The above quote just happened across my path one day. The most
interesting things wander by when you're living with someone in grad
This grad student, for your information, is my partner of almost 23
years, a pre-96 deacon that severed his connection to the UMC when he
felt it was becoming increasingly hostile to us homosexuals. After an
interim career in social service and a long career in data processing,
however, the call to be helping people never left. When the district
Board of Ordained Ministry failed by one vote to reconnect him to his
conference, he decided to become a Licensed Professional Counselor.
With his age, course load, and vision challenges we have no idea how
long he'll get to counsel once he has his degree and his license.
That brings me back to the quote my favorite grad student brought
home. Stop using us for your verbal punching bags.
"But we're only speaking our beliefs," I hear you say.
Your beliefs hurt people. How Christian! No less than the pistol
whipping delivered to Matthew Shepard, your words cause injury,
depression and deep psychological wounds. You cause untold injury to
vulnerable people. Not to all of us, fortunately. Me personally? I
hear your language and I dismiss you as not worth my time. Hurt me?
Hurt my partner? You wish. Still, there are fragile people out there
and you're hurting them.
Give the language a rest. I won't tolerate it in my presence. I'll
tell you to keep your opinion to yourself because I've heard it, I've
heard it from better than you, and I doubt you have anything new to
add to the argument.
And for the other lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender and queer
persons here at GC If someone starts running us down in your presence,
with the utmost respect tell them you've heard it and it's time to
give it a rest. And for our supporters, and our friends, and our
parents, and yes, our children too, I urge you to step forward. Be
respectful but firm.
This is our reality. We were born lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender,
queer. We're here. We're confident of our salvation. And we're not
your punching bags. Show a little respect to your fellow Christians.
This 'n' that
Unfortunately we can't cover everything that happened Wednesday in the
Thursday newsletter. At some point we need to finalize this thing so
we can get on with production of the next day's newsletter. We hope to
have full coverage of the Wednesday sexual orientation, gender
identity, and gender expression issues in the Friday newsletter. That
will be our last newsletter produced at General Conference, and we
hope we can make everything fit.
Meanwhile, if you've been touched by a story in our daily GC
newsletter, you feel we've done something particularly well or we've
screwed up really badly, let us know. We really do appreciate
comments, written and verbal. Please send written comments to
AffirmationNewsletter_ at_yahoogroups.com. (Replace the _at_ with @,
Quote of the Day: "Human beings are perhaps never more frightening
than when they are convinced beyond doubt that they are right." -
Laurens van der Post, explorer and writer (1906-1996)