United Methodists on Thursday voted to
keep an anti-gay policy, despite fierce lobbying from gay rights
Washington Post reported that the nearly 1,000 delegates
gathered for the United Methodist Church's (UMC) General Conference
in Tampa, Florida rejected two proposals which sought to soften the
church's opposition to homosexuality.
The proposals sought to replace the
denomination's stance that homosexual acts are “incompatible with
Christian teaching” in the Book of Discipline with more ambiguous
statements on homosexuality, such as stating that church members
differ about “whether homosexual practices [are] contrary to the
will of God.”
Delegates on Friday are expected to
consider proposals aimed at dismantling the church's bans on
noncelibate gay clergy and gay marriage.
Lay delegate Jennifer Ihlo from the
Baltimore/Washington Conference argued in favor of altering the
“I want to be clear that this is not
an abstract issue,” the paper quoted Ihlo as saying. “This is
about people who are being harmed by the church and by the use of the
“I am a lesbian and a child of God
and I strongly urge the body to support this compromise language so
that gay youth … will recognize that the church loves them and God
loves them and the violence and pain and suicide will stop.”
While UMC is the nation's largest
mainline Protestant denomination, power is increasingly shifting to
more conservative churches in Africa and Asia as United Methodism
shrinks in the United States.
One delegate from Africa condemned
homosexuality, comparing it to bestiality.