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Out #10: Affirmation's Daily General Conference 2008 Newsletter

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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
    Message 1 of 1 , May 2 7:01 AM
      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
      minority report.

      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
      not exist.

      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


      Legislative Miscellaneous

      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
      Methodist Church
      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
      so-called unity.
      The young notice. They notice the church denying, refusing,
      threatening, removing, closeting the LGBT people who faithfully serve
      the church.
      The world notices.
      We notice.
      God 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
      the church,
      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
      our congregations.
      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.
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