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Keeping up with the 2012 United Methodist General Conference

By: 28 April 2012 No Comment

Every four years, the United Methodist Church holds a conference and decides policy for its worldwide membership.

The 2012 General Conference started on April 24 in Tampa, Fla., and there are available some early reports on the issues surrounding the conference. Perhaps the most controversial issues in this conference (and, indeed, the last one, the one before that, etc.) has to do with the Church’s stance on homosexuality. The United Methodist Church views homosexuality as incompatible with Christian doctrine, meaning gay marriages are not endorsed, gay clergy that are not celibate are excluded from the ministry and groups such as Reconciling Ministries Network have charged the policy runs counter to the Church’s stance as an inclusive organization.

There are, then, attempts to change the Church’s stance on homosexuality. Committee reports started coming in Saturday and the Confessing Movement reports that early attempts at reform look none to promising. Bear in mind that all committee reports will be debated in plenary sections starting Monday before the General Conference votes on them.

However, committees so far have not approved petitions to change the definition of marriage as anything but a union between a man and a woman and legislation that would allow each Annual Conference to decide whether to allow its churches to perform same sex marriages was defeated in committee. That policy, if adopted, would allow for regional churches to determine whether same sex marriages were acceptable, thus freeing individual conferences from worldwide Church doctrine.

Meanwhile, it is uncertain at this point whether a petition removing the phrase declaring homosexuality to be incompatible with Christian doctrine from the Book of Discipline (the document which provides the rules and structure to the Church) will gain any traction in the 2012 Conference. Also, both a petition calling for a study of transgenderism and one removing a prohibition against using church money to advance homosexual charges failed.

To keep up with the issues in the conference, go here for the Confessing Movement’s take on things, here for the official Conference site or here for updates from The United Methodist reporter.

About: Ethan C. Nobles:
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email =

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