Subtitle 2: Hegel Paves the Way to GC2004!
- Theo tells what this is about!
- Ah, "dialog" continues in Western Pennsylvania
- The first "conditioning" exercise!
- Petition 91 submitted by MFSA/RTF folks
- The Substitute for P-91
- What happened?
- Time to reflect and project a bit!
- See W. PA Conference's "Top Billing" in UMNS Release!
- A bishop of another kind!
- Other references to UMC chaos!
- Ready the chains!
- President of W PA Evangelical Connection Responds!
- CR poses a question about this "dialog" thing!
- Check out the New England "Declaration!" and Kansas capers!
- Is the present official "position" of the UMC on gay/lesbian issues the correct one?
- Getting in touch with CR
Hello, there - Theo here again to let you know of a very significant happening at the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference where CR is an ordained elder in full connection. He has given information to me which has been placed here for you to digest - uh, you better have a bushel of Tums handy to handle all this stuff! As CR and the other delegates (nearly 1,000) entered the area on Wednesday, June 7th ('00), where the plenary sessions were to be held they were given a bright yellow sheet of paper titled, "A PEOPLE. A SPIRIT. A VISION." This was just a hint of what was yet to come. So read carefully, my friend, and always keep in mind that General Conference 2004 will be held in Pittsburgh PA with the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference hosting the grand event!
Oh, in case you are new and don't know just who I am, or my interesting background, you can go to Meet Theo. You can throw your browser into reverse to come back here.
W PA Annual Conference 2002 -- Below is the "glowing" report on the progress of dialoging in the W PA Annual Conference with high hopes for GC 2004 which is scheduled to take place in Pittsburgh. This report can be seen in the UMNS account of annual conference reports given at W Pa Conf.
"Members of the Conference Dialogue Team presented a video describing their efforts during the past two years to understand one another better and to model Jesus’ love toward each other, despite their differing views on homosexuality. Following the 2000 General Conference, members on both sides felt the need to approach the issue in a non-confrontational manner and agreed to do so at the 2000 annual conference. Since then, the group has met regularly, and several members related in the video how important it has been to them to get to know each other as people and not as stereotypes. The group plans a second video to be used with a moderator in a church setting. The team members said they hope their efforts will be used as a model at the 2004 General Conference in Pittsburgh."
Spring 2001 -- In the W PA Evangelical Connection News Letter a report on the progress of "dialoging" was given. See for yourself -- the question remains -- why do we not "dialog" with other groups that are abusing God's sacred gift of sexuality, and who might feel excluded unless we sit down and "dialog" about the issue -- you know, people like the adulterers, fornicators, bestiality practitioners, and those who get their thrills out of playing sex games with small children and even infants at times? Anyway, here is the verbatim report from the news letter. More to come after the W PA Annual Conference gathering at Grove City in early June.
"Up to seven members of the Evangelical Connection, and up to seven members of the Reconciling Task Force in W PA have met four times to share thoughts, ask questions and pray with each other in the spirit of the P-91 legislation passed last June 2000 at Annual Conference.
We have found a genuine love for Christ and faithful devotional lives in all those attending and a deeper respect for each other as a result. A model is developing in which we can help other clergy and laity in our Conference to dialogue face to face about issues that separate us. When we don't talk honestly about it, we allow the separation to continue. There are concerns about too much talk and not enough ministry, but those around this Dialogue table are in ministry with the sexually broken and that is why they have so much compassion for P-91. A written report will be issued at Grove City."
A PEOPLE. A SPIRIT. A VISION. "God moves mountains on rivers of tears"
--- James Hisey II
The story of the church is interwoven with the ongoing struggle of persons committed to moving the mountains of intolerance, fear, hatred, and oppression from the terrain of our world. These towering peaks have names such as: racism, sexism, and heterosexism. In our efforts to create a new landscape of love and justice, we have shed many tears and we know that the night of our weeping has not yet see the dawn. Still, we continue to dream, to labor, to pick ourselves up and start again. Our shared vision of "God’s justice rolling like mighty waters" carries us onward.
For nearly 30 years the United Methodist Church has been "struggling with the issue of homosexuality." It is time we look beyond the issue to see the persons. Justice commands it. Gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered persons are individuals of sacred worth, beautiful and beloved by God….as they have been made in the image of God. The gay community has always been and will always be a vital part of the community of Christ serving in the church as teachers, leaders, artists, musicians, and pastors.
This day it is not an issue that is before you, it is a people; a spirit; a vision of God’s reign of justice - love for all persons and for all creation.
- The people, the spirit, the vision will not be ignored, silenced, or dismissed.
- The people, the spirit, the vision will educate, dialogue, listen and act.
- The people, the spirit, the vision will open wide the doors of the churches.
- The people, the spirit, the vision will extend the table of God’s grace to all.
- The people, the spirit, the vision will see the full diversity of God’s creation celebrated.
- The people, the spirit, the vision will rejoice when love leads and fear is dimished.
- The people, the spirit, the vision will overcome for "failure is impossible."
- Will you join us?
- Will you stand with us?
- Will you witness with us?
The rainbow armband we wear is a symbol that celebrates the brilliant diversity of God’s creation. The rainbow is a sign of hope. The rainbow is a celebration for us all, gay and heterosexual together surrounded by love, the promise of peace, and the reality of justice.
Written by: The Reverend Sally Jo Snyder
On behalf of:
The WPA Chapter of MFSA (Methodist Federation for Social Action)
The Reconciling Task Force of WPA Annual Conference
Now, after getting "conditioned" a bit with the yellow sheet, the delegates were introduced to P-91 in the Daily Journal -- interesting that this petition was not submitted early enough to be included in the pre conference materials sent to delegates in advance!
P-91 Ministry with Sexual Minorities
WHEREAS, by a vote of 833 to 54, delegates to General Conference 2000 adopted a “Resolution Regarding Ministry For and With All Persons” (see full text in Appendix B), resolving that the United Methodist Church dedicate itself to a ministry of Christ-like hospitality and compassion to persons of all sexual orientations, and to a vision of unity through openness to the spiritual gifts of all those who have been baptized into the Body of Jesus Christ; and
WHEREAS, the adopted resolution states that such ministry and openness may include: welcoming sexual minorities, their friends, and families into our churches and demonstrating our faith in a loving God; a willingness to listen and open our hearts to their stories and struggles in our churches, districts, annual conferences and General Conference; encouraging study and dialogue around issues of sexuality; and praying for all those who are in pain and discord over our Christian response to this controversial issue; and
WHEREAS, in Matthew 25:35 and 40, Jesus taught his disciples, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me,” explaining, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me;” and
WHEREAS, there are personal testimonies by United Methodists in the Western Pennsylvania Conference who have been repeatedly rejected and denied participation in the life of our local churches solely on account of their sexual orientation; and
WHEREAS, so-called “transforming “ ministries (also known as “reparative therapy” or “conversion therapy”) which attempt to change an individual’s sexual orientation from homosexuality or bisexuality to heterosexuality are one response to the existence of sexual minorities within the church community; and
WHEREAS, Christian therapists, pastors, and lay people who engage in reparative therapy are using an experimental treatment whose effectiveness has never been researched and published in a peer-reviewed professional journal and for which no accurate longitudinal survey has been conducted to track the outcome of clients who have completed such reparative therapy (1); and
WHEREAS, most professional mental health organizations and human sexuality researchers believe that homosexuality is a fixed, and unchosen condition for a minority of humans (2); and
WHEREAS, the American academy of Pediatrics, American Association of Social Workers, American Psychiatric Association, and American Psychological Association have all issued statements condemning reparative therapy and in particular, the American Psychiatric Association has highlighted their concerns about serious damage that this form of therapy does to some clients (see statements in Appendix A); and
WHEREAS, it would appear from the available data that mental health professional organizations are correct in their conclusion that reparative therapy is ineffective, contraindicated and unsafe, and that therapists and Christian ministries have an ethical responsibility to discontinue reparative therapy until such a time as it can be demonstrated to be safe;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Western PA Conference of The United Methodist Church heed the dangers inherent in counseling sexual minorities to think of themselves as “sexually broken” heterosexuals in need of transformation, and instead work toward creating church communities in each district where sexual minorities are welcome to participate in all aspects of the life of the church and are free from coercion to deny and/or change their sexual orientation.
The petition was signed by 29 persons, some of whose signatures are listed in Cornet Statements of Commitment -- check Clergy Signers and Laity Signers. Also the head honcho of W PA Conference Board of Ordained Ministry was a signatory! The petition was very, very pregnant with references to supposed “authoritative” statements coming out of the American Psychiatric Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Psychological Association which strongly condemned “reparative therapy!” As you probably realize, it is that special group of persons in present day society known as “psychiatrists” and “psychologists” who are considered the final authority on all matters that have to do with human behavior and lifestyle! If you don’t believe that, just take a listen to the stuff flowing in our mass media culture and note how frequently these characters are mentioned. And also remember that candidates for United Methodist ministry have to undergo "pyschological testing," paying some big bucks in the process! The profession of psych's has really gotten its hooks into our culture and is successfully invading the church! Basically the original P-91 has succeeded in sowing some seed of doubt regarding any effort to have same gender coupling folks exposed to the transforming power of Jesus Christ!
The petition was defeated in the legislative section by a vote of 56 to 17 with 4 abstentions. The petition was later removed from the consent calendar as a result of 10 signatures submitted for removal and bringing the petition before the plenary session.
Motion to substitute regarding P- 91
Whereas, we affirm our belief in the inestimable worth of each individual because we are human beings created by God and loved through and by Jesus Christ, and we affirm that all people are equally valuable in the sight of God (Preamble to Social Principles and Par. 65 and 66, 1996 Book of Discipline), and
Whereas, in addressing the nurturing function of Christian fellowship, our United Methodist Church Social Principles assert that human sexuality is a complex gift of which we have limited understanding (Par. 65G, 1996 Book of Discipline), and
Whereas, we believe that homosexual people no less than heterosexual people are individuals of sacred worth and that all people need the ministry and guidance of the Church in their struggles for human fulfillment, as well as the spiritual and emotional care of a fellowship that enables reconciling relationships with God, with others, and with self (Par. 65G, 1996 Book of Discipline), and
Whereas, an individual confronting his or her minority sexual orientation and/or that of a close family member, friend, or associate often experiences isolation, confusion, and fear when he or she needs information, guidance, and support (“Teens at risk”, 1996 Book of Discipline), and
Whereas, we recognize that teens dealing with questions about sexual orientation are at greater risk of suicide (“Teens at risk”, 1996 Book of Discipline), and
Whereas, Jesus demonstrated a radical love for those rejected by mainstream society, and intentionally sought them out, reaching out to them with dignity and respect.
Whereas, a resolution was adopted at General Conference 1996 which issued a call on our churches to reach out in live and compassion to all people, regardless of sexual orientation, becoming beacons of love in a stormy sea of hatred, discrimination, and violence (“Call for a Rebirth of Compassion”, 1996 Book of Resolutions), and
Whereas, we are called to renew our commitment to become faithful witnesses to the Gospel, not alone to the ends of the earth, but also to the depths of our common life and work (Preamble to Social Principles),
Whereas, the Western PA Annual Conference at times:
- Failed to take seriously the call of Christ to reach out to all people, including those identified as gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgendered.
- Failed to name and respond to our fears and hatred of people identified as gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgendered.
- Failed to make the love of God our first priority, thus judging and rejecting those identified as GLBT and driving them further from the arms of God.
- Created an atmosphere of mutual distrust and hostility.
- Wounded and inflicted great pain and discord on persons identified as gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgendered, their families and friends.
- Failed to confront and challenge the sin of apathy.
- Failed to identify a faithful, effective framework of ministry to and with gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgendered.
- Intimidated and often silenced one another by the use of harmful dehumanizing labels.
- Failed to identify and confront false stereotypes.
Therefore be it resolved, that the Western PA Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church dedicate itself to a response of Christ-like compassion for and with all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, and demonstrate this by:
- Honestly praying for all who are in pain and discord over this difficult issue.
- Entering into those areas of repentance, including those listed above, where we have failed as individuals, churches, and Annual Conference to faithfully represent and embody the truth and love of Jesus Christ.
- Welcoming all with hospitality in our worship, accepting that all of us are seeking God and growing in our faith and wholeness.
- Seeking to understand rather than debate one another, with an attitude marked by a willingness to hear each other’s stories and struggles and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the context of our personal relationships, our churches, our districts, and our Annual Conference.
This substitute was submitted by the Western Pennsylvania Evangelical Connection.
The substitute is thriving very well -- it was printed as you read it above in the Spring 2001 issue of the Johnstown District Newsletter which is sent out to pastors and lay leadership folks of the district! It was listed with the title, "Call to Love and Compassion for All People." It will help to prepare us further for General Conference 2004 scheduled to be held in Pittsburgh PA!
To quote the late actor William Bendix who played at one point in his career a character by the name of Riley – “What a revoltin’ development this is!”
Delegates in the plenary session supported the non concurrence vote of the legislative section on the original P-91. A vote to suspend the rules was taken and approved. Then discussion started on the substitute. Some changes were made and a paragraph deleted. Then at times the president of the Evangelical Connection was viewed at the microphone with a representative of the MSFA/RCT group, both of which made appeals for acceptance of the substitute. It was then that comments such as “This is a historical moment!” and “This is a great opportunity!” were declared. The MSFA/RCT rep at the microphone stressed that the substitute was fully acceptable to them in place of the original P-91!
Time to vote! The bishop called for a show of hands for those supporting the substitute – a bunch of hands went up – then he called for a show of hands of those opposing the substitute – again, a bunch of us put up our hands (from my vantage point about half way back, it seemed that those opposing had more votes than those supporting) – the bishop ruled that the substitute was adopted, which is what he wanted anyhow!
At the General Conference, Bishop Bashore made this statement in his sermon:“Is it possible for us to move toward a Hegelian dialectic in which the thesis and the antithesis come to some resolution in a sythesis? Do both parts of that dialectic contain truths? And what are the truths that are contained therein? Or is there a more transcendent truth which can bring about the unity of the body of Christ? We need to be open to this quest to rediscover the first love that can pull us together.”Ok, there you have it and you have seen it played out in W. PA Annual Conference 2000! The evangelicals (thesis) and the MFSA/RCT (antithesis) – or if you want to reverse those, go ahead – it doesn’t make much difference! And the substitute for P-91 (new synthesis) which now brings us into dialog (love that word, don’t you?) and listening to each other – no more debate and no more fighting!
The bishop also made reference to the fact that God may have a new revelation for us – is this recent “synthesis” what it is? Shades of Phil Wogaman who uses that kind of rhetoric – you know, Phil talks about “new revelation” from God (hint, hint) – the new revelation being that same gender coupling is a very acceptable lifestyle, if not desired more than something called God’s ordained plan for humans referred to as marriage between male and female!
Anyway, it appears that Bishop Bashore can happily turn over the reigns of the W PA Conference to his successor later this summer with the announcement that we now have a “marriage” of another kind – evangelicals and rainbows! And the new "captain of the ship" or however it is that bishops arrange for change of command will have a good foundation to build on with this being a significant step in preparing for the General Conference of 2004 scheduled to meet at Pittsburgh PA!
Bishop Bashore's successor is Bishop Hae-Jong Kim, who has been bishop of the New York West Area for 8 years.
With such a great example being set in the hosting conference of GC2004 and all the "conditioning" exercises to which we are being exposed, will there be any reason for Mel White and his Soulforce gang to even show up due to the fact that we will be quite well prepared by then to remove and/or alter those highly objectionable, divisive, and exclusive statements in the Book of Discipline? Huh?
Stay tuned folks – lots of interesting developments -- ooops! – revoltin’ developments yet to come!
Oh, by the way, you can see the article and photo of a "protest" which took place on Thursday, June 8th, as the General Conference delegation gave its report. The "rainbow" folks stood at the front of the arena on floor level while the delegates on the stage gave their reports. Check at Rainbow Protest!
Well, well, take a look at this -- I took some flak for putting together the material on this page and the added "commentary" -- but look at the "top billing" W. PA Annual Conference got in Homosexual Discussion Continues in Some AC's! Still skeptical that some aren't looking ahead to GC2004 in Pittsburgh PA??
And the June 30, 2000 issue of InterLink, official newspaper of the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference, had the following information printed, starting with the lead paragraph on upper left corner of the front page which said:"In a move that retiring Bishop George W. Bashore called one the most memorable in his 20 years as bishop, the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference approved legislation endorsed by opposing factions in the debate over the role of homosexuals in the church. It calls for both sides to seek 'to understand rather than debate one another, with an attitude marked by a willingness to hear each other's stories and struggles.'"
Later the article picks up on this again by saying, "The resolution calling for a nurturing ministry of care to all people regardless of their sexual orientation was jointly introduced by the Rev. Sally Jo Snyder of the Reconciling Task Force and the Rev. Dale Shunk of the Evangelical Connection. Shunk said he agreed to the resolution after he sat down with Snyder and got to know her. 'We're moving beyond debate and toward ministry,' he said. 'We worked together on this and feel pretty good about it.'"
On Page 4 of the paper there is a photo of Snyder and Shunk together with the following caption above it: "The Rev. Sally Jo Snyder of the Reconciling Task Force and the Rev. Dale Shunk of Evangelical Connection made history on June 8 when they jointly introduced legislation calling for a ministry of care to all people, regardless of sexual orientation."
More details in article at Two Sides Join in "Historic Moment" at Annual Conference
For more on this subject, go to Doing Dialog -- A Primer on How It Works!
But, Keep In Mind Another Bishop's Position!
Bishop Arthur Kulah of Liberia addressed GC2000 in Cleveland. Here is a brief on that -- too bad he couldn't have visited W. PA Conference 2000 and been given a few hours of platform time
He (Bishop Kulah) contrasted the denomination's proscriptions against the practice of homosexuality with the gay advocates’ assertion that homosexuality is "a natural variant of human sexuality," and said that Scripture, which is the primary authority for belief and practice, "is unequivocal on this subject of homosexuality."
If the United Methodist Church is to be a global church, it must continue its stance, he said. Both the Old and New Testaments condemn the practice of homosexuality, he said. "In fact, it was one of the consequences for the destruction of Sodom. May we not suffer the wrath of God because of the quest to satisfy unpleasant desires that contrive the loving purpose of God for his church."
"It is against the background of such biblical imperatives that we, the global United Methodist Church, do not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider it incompatible with Christian teaching."
He asked the denomination to adhere to its rule that self-avowed practicing homosexuals not be accepted as candidates for ministry nor appointed to serve in the United Methodist Church. "For to do so is to contravene the very faith we proclaim. For we cannot afford to ruin the hearts and lives of the church and hence the world by engaging in practices not even easily mentioned among believers,” he said.
Other references on United Methodist chaos you might want to check into:
- throw your browser into reverse to return here -
UMC's Version of the Energizer Bunny!
Circuit Rider's Peek Behind the Scenes #1
UMC's Creech Caper!
A House Div\/ided!
UMC Episcopal Endorsement of Same Gender Coupling!
Flushed Out Into the Open!
great possibilities if this "dialogue" strategy takes hold!
See Future UM News!
"Make a chain, for the land is filled with crimes of blood, and the city is full of violence. Therefore I will bring the worst of the Gentiles, and they will possess their houses; I will cause the pomp of the strong to cease, and their holy places shall be defiled. Destruction comes; they will seek peace, but there shall be none. Disaster will come upon disaster, and rumor will be upon rumor. Then they will seek a vision from a prophet; but the law will perish from the priest, and counsel from the elders. The king will mourn, the prince will be clothed with desolation, and the hands of the common people will tremble. I will do to them according to their way, and according to what they deserve I will judge them; then they shall know that I am the LORD!"
Ezekiel 7:23-27 (NKJV)
The president of the Western PA Annual Conference Evangelical Connection sent an email to CR about "Lesson in Compromise." In fairness to him, that response is printed with his approval and can be read at A Response to Lesson in Compromise His email address will be found at the end of the response for any who have further questions, or want to make a response to him.And CR is discussing the subject of "dialogue" and "specialized ministry" to an identified singled out group, with the question posed, "Should this have to be?" at About This Dialog Thing!
All kinds of things busting loose as annual conferences assemble -- take a look at the infamous New England Declaration -- how about getting the stomach churned a bit more by looking at Reconciling Kansas (or is it Wreckonciling Kansas?) -- ooooh! now we are faced with another threat which is called "heterosexism" -- watch it -- this monster lurks in many places including the church! Now then, do you want to try to picture what the scenario will be by the time GC2004 rolls around at Pittsburgh PA?
Express yourself in a survey on The United Methodist Church and Homosexuality -- you have options in your answers!
Oooh! I'll take a second helping -- lift me up to the top!
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