GC2 008: Rally Urges Inclusion Regardless of Sexual Identity
- Rally Urges Inclusion Regardless of Sexual Identity
April 26, 2008
By Kathy L. Gilbert*
FORT WORTH, Texas (UMNS)-"Change is coming," says one young adult
leader who says The United Methodist Church is getting closer to
welcoming everyone regardless of their sexual identity.
"Don't worry; it will happen because nothing can stop the force of
this generation," said Rachel Birkhahn-Rommelfanger, chairperson of
the United Methodist Student Movement.
Birkhahn-Rommelfanger was among speakers who addressed more than 200
people gathered for a noon rally on April 26 to support inclusion of
gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons in the denomination.
The rally took place outside of the Fort Worth Convention Center,
where the 2008 United Methodist General Conference is meeting April
23-May 2. The church's top legislative body will decide policy for the
denomination for the next four years and is expected to vote on
legislation dealing with membership and ordination of homosexuals.
The church's law book states "the practice of homosexuality is
incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore self-avowed practicing
homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as
ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church."
The Division on Young People, United Methodist Board of Discipleship,
is sponsoring one resolution that asks the denomination to offer
membership "to all who have been baptized and those who have professed
their faith regardless of age, class, ethnicity, gender, race, and
"We are offering bold pieces of legislation," said Theon Johnson III,
co-chair of the division. "We are not called to do church but to be
Shalom Agtarap, a member of Young Adult Seminarians Network, Board of
Higher Education and Ministry, asked the young people to remember that
General Conference is a "family meeting."
"How would you speak to your mother or your father?" she asked. "In
our discussion, remember you are talking to members of the same family."
"We all have a special interest in God's justice," said Bryan
Schlemmer, coordinator of On Fire, a young adult group within the
Methodist Federation for Social Action. "My salvation depends on your
Young people drummed for 24 hours leading up to the noon rally. After
the event, participants went inside the convention center and prayed
outside of conference rooms as delegates worked on legislation.
*Gilbert is a news writer for United Methodist News Service.