A report from Church and Society B

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Editor’s note: The legislative committee process was completed last night, and so things may have changed  a bit since UMR Correspondent Christy Thomas spoke with Richard Hearne, a lay member of the North Texas Conference delegation. This is Hearne’s 4th consecutive conference at which he is a delegate. We share the following interview to give one participant’s perspective on the process. 


C:  Richard, will you describe for us the legislative committee selection process and what you saw happen in your committee?  First can you tell me which legislative committee you are on?

R: I’m on Church and Society B, part II which basically is dealing with human sexuality issues. [Note: Hearne has served on this same legislative committee at each of the four General Conferences he has been a part of.]

C: How many people are on this committee?

R: There are supposed to be 72 but we think we have somewhere around 65 or so because people are in and out.

C: How did the subcommittee selection process work?

R.: There are four different subcommittees. We self-selected which subcommittee we wanted.

The hope was that approximately 20 people would go to each. Unfortunately, 30 people chose to go to the human sexuality committee.

C: What happened at that point?

R: They asked for ten of us to self-select to go to the other committees so they would have balance. The thirty of us agreed that we were not going to do that. Personally, I felt that I was sent to this General Conference to speak to this issue.

So we decided that since we have thirty, it means we’re going to have less participation. But what we’re finding out right now is that only four or five people are doing all the talking.

C: Where are those four or five from?

R: All of them are great people. One is from Western PA, one from Florida and then the Central Conference delegates, mainly from Africa. We have about 14 or 15 of our Central Conference delegates from Africa on our committee dealing with the sexuality issues.

So there are 29 people, excluding the chair, and about 14 or 15 of them are Central Conference delegates. Just for fun, a friend of mine and I counted noses before we voted. We said, “Well, it will be about 18 to 10.” All of our votes have been a solid, 20-9, big block voting.

C: Can you tell me what petitions have come before you that you have already voted on?

R. We’re voting only on human sexuality. We are debating Paragraph 161 F in the Book of Discipline. It is the will of the group to keep the language the way it is.  We’ve worked our way through several petitions and they were all voted down.

C: Those petitions would have . . . ?”

R. The amendments we looked at would remove the incompatibility clause and also the word “heterosexual,” just leaving the word “marriage.” The will of our group: they want to maintain the current Disciplinary language for all those issues. It’s very apparent to me, and this is my personal opinion, that when a majority of the people on my subcommittee see that the petition has anything to do with “sex” or “sexual,” they are voting “no”. There is no alternative. Just keep it like it is.

C: Are they entering into discussion about it?

R: No, just the vote. This is just devastating. I’m the vice-chair of the subcommittee. The chair said to me, “Do you see anything on this list we could pass?” We’d voted down five or six petitions by then.

I looked down the list and saw it said “Care for GLBTQ youth.” Basically, this petition requests that we as a UMC support all youth and are specifically mindful of our GLBTQ youth who suffer from all sorts of embarrassment and persecution.

One of our delegates said that, in their culture, “They discipline their children and they love their children so they would never let their children be GLBTQ”.

Another said, “We just don’t do this.”

We had people there were mincing words. One of the US delegates said that 40% of LBGTQ youth commit suicide and someone else said 20% or some other number do so and they wanted to know the exact percentage.

Another person said “Let’s just take out the LGBTQ and say we support all kids. Which we do. So it was very frustrating. A good friend of mine, someone I’ve known and served on this committee with for 16 years, was visibly upset when this committee turned down support for LGBTQ youth.

C: So the Committee denied this petition. Do you remember what the vote was?

R: Twenty to deny, nine people in favor. That vote has been maintained all the way across the board. It’s like there is someone pulling strings and saying “vote this way.”

C: Do you have any evidence that someone is pulling strings?

R: No. It’s just a sense I have. The Central Conference delegates sit there with blank expressions on their faces. This may a cultural thing, I don’t know. But all of a sudden, it is like a light bulb goes off and they vote “no.”

C: What logic are they using to speak against the petitions?

R: God made us male, God made us female. One man asked, “Can you explain why anyone who was born male would want to be a female? And we said “If we had that answer, we’d be way ahead of the game.”

Nothing is coming out of our sub-committee at all. We will probably pass a petition after lunch today that says we are voting to maintain the current Discipline. Those twenty people want to keep 161 F exactly like it is.


Editor’s note: During the Friday’s afternoon session, the full committee reversed the decision of the subcommittee and passed the petition by 39-30. This means it will come to the plenary for further discussion and vote.

Below is the text of petition about care for LGBTQ children and youth that was denied by this subcommittee:

Reducing Harm for LGBTQ Children and Youth (60841-CB-R9999-G)

Add New Resolution as Follows:

WHEREAS, research indicates that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender teens who experience high levels of rejection at home are more likely to attempt suicide, are at higher risk for depression, are more likely to use illegal drugs, and are more likely to be at high risk for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases; and

WHEREAS, as many as 40 percent of homeless youth identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, many of whom are on the streets either because their families shut them out of their homes or because they feel unsafe and/or unwanted in their family home; and

WHEREAS, according to the Social Principles of The United Methodist Church, “We implore families and churches not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends. We commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons”(¶ 161 F); and

WHEREAS, The United Methodist Church has affirmed its commitment to be in ministry to persons of all sexual orientations, and points out that “an individual confronting his or her own 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, and we recognize that teens dealing with questions about sexual orientation are at a greater risk for suicide” (#2041, 2012 Book of Resolutions); and

WHEREAS, The United Methodist Church has also affirmed its opposition to homophobia and heterosexism, and its opposition to “all forms of violence or discrimination based on gender, gender identity, sexual practice, or sexual orientation” (#2042, 2012 Book of Resolutions); and

WHEREAS, while our church holds diverse opinions regarding sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression, we share a commitment to do no harm, to do all the good we can, and to love God; and

WHEREAS, it is not necessary for parents to agree with their children in order to demonstrate love,

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that The United Methodist Church seeks to educate families about how to respond with love to their youth whose sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression may not conform to their family’s expectations. This response includes affirming the value and sacred worth of their youth, maintaining safe spaces and not severing ties with their youth, and demonstrating respect for their youth; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that, where possible, United Methodist Churches will work with local schools to encourage and support educational opportunities, best practices for creating safe spaces, policies for reducing bullying, and to support youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, or who question their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Although there are diverse opinions about theology and polity in the UMC, notably regarding sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression, we are committed to doing no harm and doing all the good we can through reducing homelessness, risk, and harm to children and youth.

 

 

I’m a retired Elder in the United Methodist Church, the place I finally discovered grace after a lifelong search. I love writing, gardening, reading, asking questions and making connections between political and religious practices.

My husband and I jointly claim eleven children (as he says, “mostly by mergers and acquisitions!”) and twelve grandchildren. In between our own travels, we love to have them and many others come and stay with us a bit. We see so much of the heavenly grace in the offering of earthly hospitality.

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29 Comments on "A report from Church and Society B"

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The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
 
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Dr Alice Koech
Guest

I found the interview to be demeaning of African delegates. There are cultural differences of course but to suggest that they just sit there with blank expressions until voting time, is to paint a picture of people who have no feelings and no capacity to reason. I hope that is not what is suggested here. Our prayers are with all delegates as they deliberate these difficult issues.

Jim
Guest

They likely came having done their “homework” already, and so only needed to vote.

Don Wilson
Guest

Someone is pulling the strings. The Holy Spirit! Will every time pull for biblical truth – one man one woman for life

Christa
Guest

The spirit voting down outreach to help curb teen suicide surely exists, but it’s not holy.

Leland C Collins
Guest
If you take just a few minutes to really read the petition which was rejected by the committee you find there are many OTHER issues than outreach to help curb teen suicide… as well as very questionable quoted statistics (40% of homeless youth identify as gay, lesbian…etc – REALLY?>? YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING!!) to pass this legislation would be saying that we UM’s believe such suspect data … and the mandatory accusatory last paragraph which tries is its own PC way to brand anyone who disagrees with changing our moral codes on sexual behavior as a bigot… The petition… Read more »
Tami Toothman-Shoup
Guest

Yes, Leland, 40% – and those are just the folks who will openly admit it. Who knows how many more won’t out themselves out of fear of retribution – or more retribution/abuse/persecution. That number comes directly from the National Coalition for the Homeless. You can see even more statistics from NationalHomeless.com. You can find similar instances of this “suspect data” in articles in the Washington Post and Huff Post, data from the “True Colors Foundation”, the Williams Institute, and several other studies from sources that are relevant and reliable.

Creed Pogue
Guest
“blank expressions on their faces” isn’t the most grace-filled way to describe people that you evidently disagree with. Considering what we have heard about translation issues in the subcommittees, should anyone be surprised if people have limited or no expression until they understand what is next? It is sad that people think that passing a resolution is really doing anything about any issue. The only thing this resolution would do is give GBCS license to do more of what they want to do and claim a fig leaf of “we are acting with a resolution” when they continue to pick… Read more »
Bob
Guest

The comments of Mr. Hearne Texas sound completely arrogant, condescending and racist.

Senior Citizen
Guest

I just don’t get it. We all serve and love the same God. A God that loves all of us unconditionally. We are suppose to love one another unconditionally.

John
Guest
For someone to suggest that African delegates were seated with blank expression in their face is a mockery statement that i take upon myself to rebuke in totality. Stop playing the big brother mentality, the issue of homosexuals to be recognized in church is a non- starter to a mentally and socially sound african christian believer. so why should they waste their time to discuss about christianising sin. they were correct to vote NO. Even if i was there i would take a sleep and wake up at voting time to vote a big NO. This is an insult to… Read more »
eric pone
Guest

The reporter is reporting what they say. The streaming video seems to confirm the observation as well. In the end the conferences that will do what they want. If the last two GC’s have told us anything its that they are too large to effect any change either way. So if a jurisdiction wants to ignore it well it can and be fairly confident that GC can’t muster the votes to enforce its will.

Lynda
Guest

Does a jurisdiction or an annual conference have to ratify GC’s decisions? How about individual congregations?

Phil
Guest

It’s funny how voting results can never actually be due to thoughtful selection of the Word of God over the ever changing mores of US society.

Jim
Guest

If the vote is 20-9 against LGBTQ inclusions every time, then it is obvious at-length discussions of the Rule 44 kind would not sway enough votes, so it is good Rue 44 never passed.
As for “it is as if someone was pulling their strings”, well maybe it is the Holy Spirit.

Lee Roberts
Guest

According to this delegate, “A good friend of mine, someone I’ve known and served on this committee with for 16 years, was visibly upset when this committee turned down support for LGBTQ youth.” Why would a UMC delegate favor an effort to compartmentalize our youth according to sexual preference? Shouldn’t United Methodists provide support, protection and most important- ministry for ALL youth, instead of singling out specific groups for special consideration? The African delegates seem to understand this, unfortunately, the American delegates don’t.

Jamie
Guest

I am thankful for the results. I feel that our denomination, especially the US, has taken the quadrilateral and placed experience with reason as the only two that matter. There is a reason why we are dying– we need to see the big picture. Millions of people do not know Christ and all we can talk about are our private parts. I thank God for the African delegation and their commitment to Word and Tradition.

Brenda
Guest
When you look at a homosexual person and immediately think of their “private parts,” are you not objectifying them just as so many have objectified women? I hope your mind does not go to the bedroom every time you see a heterosexual couple. My sadness is that people would go to General Conference so convinced that their preset stand on any issue was right, that they would not give room for the Holy Spirit to transform their minds. It is arrogance–and that goes for whatever side a person has already decided. We are not dying because of the “issue” of… Read more »
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