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Out #9: Affirmation's Daily General Conference 2008 Newsletter

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  • umcornet
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , May 1, 2008
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      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:
      http://www.umaffirm.org

      Out #9, May 1, 2008 (PDF, 4 pp, 180K)
      http://www.umaffirm.org/pdf/gc080501.pdf


      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
      dragged on.

      As of the Affirmation newsletter deadline, the majority report on
      161.G was replaced by the minority report, and the minority report was
      approved.

      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
      all.

      -----------------

      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
      school.

      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 @,
      of course.)

      Judy WestLee
      Gary Shephard
      Co-Editors

      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)
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