The Quixotic Pastor

Saturday, May 03, 2008

84 Votes: A Reflection

The 2008 General Conference of the United Methodist Church had 990 delegates this year, if I read the delegation count materials correctly.

According to the latest news from Soulforce, as well as the UMC's own General Conference news website, the delegates voted 501-417 to retain the current language in the Book of Discipline which states that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.

84 votes make the difference between the denomination actually living up to its slogan --a slogan personally painful to me every time I hear it-- "open hearts, open minds, open doors."

Because it's bullshit.

Because the reality is that the UMC as a denomination does not "officially" open its doors to me and people like me. If the denomination wants to avoid the appearance of hypocrisy at worst or disingenuousness at best, it should return to "Catch the Spirit" or some other slogan. Or add the footnote *LGBT persons need not apply.*

Another caveat could be added --unless you're willing to be a second class citizen of the ecclesia, sit quietly at the back of the church bus and pretend to be someone you're not.

The UMC should also, while they're legislating people's lives, discontinue the practice of infant baptism.

[Yes, this is my opinion. Yes, it is an angry one. I acknowledge I am angry and disappointed. Why aren't you?]

Because if that baby child of God who is fully welcomed into the church one Sunday morning and is fully included in the life of the church at confirmation grows up to be LGBT, his or her welcome and inclusion will be diminished. Hopefully the infants whom a pastor lovingly paraded up and down the center aisle of a worship center and promised that the people in these pews would teach and love and nurture in the Christian faith don't ever come out as LGBT and discover that the UMC or another church often fails to keep its promises ...

Because what if those children's discipleship journey leads them to embrace their identities as LGBT children of God, fully created in God's image and affirmed as a part of God's intention for creation? Each one of them will have to make a very painful decision between parting company with a church that reneges on its promises, or remaining within a church waiting for it to "catch up" with the Holy Spirit of God. [Maybe that should be the new UMC slogan.]

On the other hand, I celebrate that it is "only" 84 votes ... although I know the reality that it often takes the "legislation" from conferences many years to trickle down to the grass roots of the churches.

I am so grateful for the witness of LGBT Christians and allies who faithfully and lovingly testify to their experience of God's grace, love and care for them in the face of misunderstandings and disagreements --as well as sometimes out and out lies, misinformation and violence that are spread by some people who choose to deal in fear instead of love. Thank you Soulforce, Reconciling Ministries Network and so many other organizations and groups dedicated to the full inclusion of LGBT persons in the life of the church.

I am really sorry that the majority report which suggested the UMC acknowledge that “Faithful, thoughtful people who have grappled with this issue deeply disagree with one another; yet all seek a faithful witness” didn't pass --because that is truth for the UMC and most other mainlines as well.

It's why there were only 84 votes making the difference.

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  • At 8:03 AM , Blogger DeniseUMLaw said...

    Gah. It makes me heartsick. I'll never understand how Christians can hold such a view of their fellow humans.

    Judge not lest ye be judged. Love thy neighbor as thyself.

    Not words to live by, merely catchy slogans?

  • At 10:04 AM , Blogger Reverend Dona Quixote said...

    I should mention that relating the concepts of full inclusion of LGBT people in the church and infant baptism was something brought to my attention by a woman with whom I attended seminary, Marilyn Alexander, who actually wrote a book about it in late 80s, early 90s called We Were Baptized Too.

  • At 11:49 AM , Blogger Rainbow Pastor said...

    Raging and weeping with you, RDQ....

  • At 1:54 PM , Blogger Songbird said...

    I am sorry about this.

  • At 7:31 PM , Blogger RevAnne said...

    rdq, thanks for your eloquence. I don't think the UMC has yet come to realize that while they're voting and legislating, real people are serving and loving and ministering.
    Thanks to for the connection to baptism.

  • At 8:39 AM , Blogger Tom in Ontario said...

    Every mainline denom. is struggling with this. I think a lot of lay people just don't understand how to read the scriptures faithfully and get strung along with the fundagelicals and their literalism.

    It's frustrating that full inclusion for LGBT people is taking so long to become a reality but I trust that it will happen even if it's going to take time.

    In the meantime God has blessed LGBT people with your MCC.

    And the vote was 54.6% to 45.4%. I don't think it will be long. Keep the faith.

  • At 10:00 PM , Blogger anginae said...

    That is disappointing. However, look at the bright side like you said. Only 84.

    My blog is at

    I too am a Methodist. Formerly quite devout until God pulled the rug out from under me.

  • At 12:37 PM , Blogger Cecilia said...

    Hoping all is well with you...

    Pax, C.


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