Update 5 PM
A protest was held on the United Methodist’s vote to retain the current language of the Book of Discipline that the “practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.”
While the poster of the YouTube video clearly has chosen a side with the “revisionist” title, the comments express differing viewpoints, including the remark that the protest was peaceful.
The New York Times reports:
The vote was 61 percent to 39 percent against the change to the church’s “Book of Discipline,” indicating little change to the deadlock on an issue the church has been debating for the last four decades. The delegates also defeated a compromise amendment proposed by the advocates of equality for gay members, which said that Methodists can agree to disagree on homosexuality and still live together as a church.
The debate on the floor of the convention, which is held only once every four years and draws about 1,000 delegates, illustrated the deep divisions and demographic shifts in the church. A delegate from Africa likened homosexuality to bestiality only moments after several American delegates pleaded with the conference to “hear the pain” of gay church members. When protesters supporting gay rights interrupted the convention with loud singing after the vote, the moderator ended the morning session early and closed the convention hall to visitors.
A gay rights protest on the General Conference floor today ended after bishops agreed to let an openly gay pastor offer a prayer.
The Rev. Frank Wulf, a delegate from the California/Pacific Conference, was invited to the podium.
“Oh God rest upon this General Conference, give us wisdom to understand, to interpret, to know each other,” he said. “But most of all God, give us hope for the future, hope that the good news of your gospel may break forth upon us.”
Demostrators filed out of the hall, singing, after his prayer.
Bishop Rosemarie Wenner, president of the Council of Bishops, spoke just before Mr. Wulf.
“Dear sisters and brothers who are gay and lesbian, transgender and bisexual people, you have been hurt by actions of the General Conference, and by the polity of the United Methodist Church,” she said. “I feel your pain. We see your pain.”
The Rev. Amy DeLong, a leader of the protesters, met with a number of bishops just before the session and insisted on a prayer by Mr. Wulf from the podium, as opposed to the floor, before the demonstration would leave the hall.
Earlier in General Conference, petitions to change the church’s positions on homosexuality, including that homosexual practice is incompatible with Christian teaching, failed in committee.
And this morning, two versions of a compromise statement, both essentially saying the church is divided and agrees to disagree on homosexuality, also were voted down.
That led to a late morning protest, with a group taking to the center of the plenary floor to sing as Bishop Mike Coyner tried to call the body to order. He ruled that lunch would be early, and that in the afternoon session the hall would be closed to all but delegates.
But other bishops quickly decided the meeting must remain open, and announced that in a statement.
Ms. DeLong met with Bishop Wenner and a number of other bishops just before the afternoon session, and they reached agreement on the prayer by Mr. Wulf.
Praise for the bishops’ handing of the situation came from the Rev. Rob Renfroe, president of Good News, an unofficial conservative caucus within the UMC.
“They did everything they could so that something that could blow up, and give the United Methodist church a great deal of negative press, didn’t happen,” he said.