Out #10: Affirmation's Daily General Conference 2008 Newsletter
- 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 #10, May 2, 2008 (PDF, 4 pp, 180K)
Contents (plain text below): Spiritual Violence Sparks Protests, Those
Patronizing Cliches, Sexual Based Violence, Discrimination Condemned,
Legislative Miscellaneous, Fort Worth Witness Proclamation.
Spiritual Violence Sparks Protests
by Gary Shephard Newsletter Staff
Wednesday's vote to accept the minority report on Paragraph 161.G has
sparked multiple protests. This was partly in response to the
acceptance of the minority report. It was partly in response to the
ugliness of the arguments against the majority report and for the
The first protest Wednesday evening consisted of the Common Witness
people who were able to, to stand at the door so that delegates would
have to walk past them on their way back from their dinner break.
Anyone with too much strong emotion was requested to care for
themselves rather than engage in the protest.
The second protest was before Thursday's session started. Body
outlines were chalked in various locations. Those who were able to
continued to lie in their chalk outlines as delegates walked past into
the convention center.
The third and by far largest protest happened during the morning
plenary. Under rule 3.3 the presiding bishop recessed the session for
15 minutes so that protesters, many of them dressed in black with
black scarves over their heads, filed in filling the area between the
four sections of delegates on the floor. Additional protesters and
supporters stood in the stands. As the protesters filed in and turned
to face the delegates they sang Were You There? Then a proclamation
was read. You can find that on page 4 of this newsletter as
Proclamation Witness General Conference 2008. People were then
invited, both protesters and delegates alike, to lay black cloth on
the communion table in the middle of the delegate area. At the end of
the 15 minutes the protesters left the floor. At that time 16 bishops
and representatives from the Common Witness coalition started meeting
in Holy Conferencing. As of Thursday afternoon we found out that the
Holy Conferencing would continue after General Conference.
Those Patronizing Cliches
by Rev. Richard F. Burdon, Retired, Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference
Oh, those patronizing cliches: "Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin," "We
are all sinners so all are in need of forgiveness." "God loves
everybody so everybody is welcome here." "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Yet
for 36 years our church law proclaims: "the practice of homosexuality
is incompatible with Christian teaching."
They gloss over the harm done to those whom the church has denied full
participation as members. Every time a person leaves the church in
despair and hopelessness the church has failed to minister to those
begging for a ministry of understanding and welcome.
A committee coined the phrase "the practice of homosexuality is
incompatible with Christian teaching" but it is time to hit the delete
key on that old line of defense. Scripture does not support such
rhetoric, nor does tradition, nor experience, nor reason. The Church's
exclusionary pronouncement betrays the reality that the church has
failed to minister to a talented, loving minority. There are few
places in the Church where the homosexual minority can find true
welcome, comfort, understanding, council, and a place to be one's
self. The secular world has moved farther and faster toward
inclusiveness, thus leaving the church squabbling over a sin that does
After 25 years of struggling to be a clergyperson and outwardly a
model family man, supposedly in love with a women, and producing two
lovely, intelligent children I arrived at an "outing" juncture which
left me adrift without the ministry of the church. There was no
alternative but to search outside my denomination for council and for
help to accept the truth about myself. I am a gay man.
I served the church as a missionary on two continents and as a parish
pastor for 10 years, all the while living a dual life. It was a life
of constant fear of discovery--always looking over my shoulder afraid
of potential attacks or revelations. I had encountered physical
brutality, verbal assaults, and heard demeaning categorizations.
Religious bigotry battered my personhood. I paid a heavy price for
pretending to be something other than what God intended for me. Those
clichés developed by an uninformed church had for years blocked my
route to self-discovery.
The movie Brokeback Mountain made it clear to me that my life had
parallels to that story. I was confused about my search for identity,
as they were. They tried to live an idealized life. They longed for
love they hoped to find in marriage, romance, and a home life with
children to raise. It is a sad story of a love and ideal that could
never be realized because of their denial of being gay. They sought in
vain to fulfill the marriage paradigm. The lives of these two
fictional characters are symbolic of millions of families facing the
dilemma of trying to deny their true nature while living a lie.
The LGBTQ world is in desperate need of a compassionate church that
understands its need for understanding, love, and acceptance.
Sexual Based Violence, Discrimination Condemned
by Victoria Rebeck, edited by Gary Shephard
Violence and discrimination against gay, lesbians, transgender, and
bisexual people was firmly condemned Wednesday. The GC delegates
passed a resolution saying that "actions rooted in homophobia and
heterosexism, including violence, threats, ridicule, humiliation,
discrimination, isolations and rejection, is damaging to persons of
all sexual orientations and identities."
The resolution also calls the United Methodist Church to strengthen
its advocacy of the eradication of sexism by opposing all forms of
violence or discrimination based on gender, gender identity, sexual
practice or sexual orientation. Further, it directs the United
Methodist General Board of Church and Society, based in Washington,
D.C., to provide resources and materials "aimed at educating members
of the local churches about the reality, issues, and effects of
homophobia and heterosexism and the need for Christian witness against
these facts of marginalization."
The resolution did not make a statement about homosexuality. Its
purpose was to condemn violence and discrimination against people who
do not "appear to fit within the particular category defined as
appropriate for their gender."
To read the complete text, visit http://gc2008.umc.org and under
"Track legislation" enter petition 80845.
Opportunity Missed On 161.G
by Diane DeLap Affirmation Spokesperson
By a vote of 501 to 417 the UMC General Conference voted to accept a
new version of Paragraph 161.G. However, instead of accepting the
majority report from the Church and Society 2 Legislative Committee
that would have removed the "incompatibility" language, the minority
report was accepted. The majority report stated in part that "We know
that all are God's children and of sacred worth; yet we have been, and
remain, divided regarding homosexual expressions of human sexuality.
Faithful, thoughtful people who have grappled with this issue deeply
disagree with one another; yet all seek a faithful witness. We
continue to reason and pray together with faith and hope that the Holy
Spirit will soon bring reconciliation to our community of faith." This
version offered the hope of breaking the logjam of painful conflict
that the UMC has endured for the past thirty years.
The new text of Paragraph 161.G can be found at
An attempt to change Paragraph 214 in Section V Church membership to
prevent an elder from preventing someone the elder feels unworthy of
church membership from joining failed to pass. This means that
Judicial Council ruling 1032 is still in effect and anyone can be
denied membership if the pastor determines the person is not ready for
membership for any reason.
An irregularity in the voting on this measure has come to light, but
it's unclear at this time whether the item will be voted on again.
Items barring transgender clergy were voted down.
Fort Worth Witness Proclamation
Drafted by the Witness Team of Reconciling Ministries Network
We have heard Jesus say to all persons without exception "follow me."
We are part of God's living body in today's world, but our United
refuses to accept what God has done,
refuses to keep covenant with its own words in the baptismal promise,
refuses to honor God's call to professional ministry,
refuses to do no harm,
refuses to open its hearts, minds, and doors.
The unchurched notice. They notice the church cruelly scape goating
lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people on the altar of
The young notice. They notice the church denying, refusing,
threatening, removing, closeting the LGBT people who faithfully serve
The world notices.
The United Methodist baptismal liturgy calls all of us to
accept the freedom and power God gives us
to resist evil, injustice, and oppression
in whatever forms they present themselves.
It is our duty our baptismal covenant to stand against the sin of
to stand for God's freedom and power,
to affirm God's entire body of Christ that is the church.
We are God's children, here . . . now.
Today we boldly declare by standing here
that our church's doors and our ministries
will radically obey the Gospel
that we defy bigotry and ignorance,
that the anti-gay policies and practices of The United Methodist
Church are wrong.
By human means we cannot stand
but by the grace of God we can.
By standing we reject the idea that homosexuality is a sin
By standing we affirm that sexuality is a good gift of God
By standing we affirm our intent to spread God's love and grace
By standing we bless and celebrate families, all families.
We do not stand alone.
We stand in solidarity with all those who are not here, who are not in
We stand with those who've been forced out
and who've never come in,
who already affirm one another as beloved children of God,
regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
We stand with holy boldness
to welcome LGBT laity and clergy into our churches and pulpits, NOW;
to keep baptismal promises for all, NOW;
to affirm calls to ministries for all people, NOW;
to bless covenant relationships in our churches by our clergy, NOW;
to assure membership for all, NOW;
to provide hospitality for all, NOW.
Join us. Stand now. Build our future with hope and trust in God.