Foreword

Acknowledgements

Julie

Visible Problem Indicators

Stewardship

Agents of Change - Issues

Institutional Dynamics

The Institutional and the Local Church

Operative Theology

Prognosis for the Future

Revival - What is Needed?

Closing Remarks

Appendix E
Historical Homosexual Highlights

[Note: The chronology contained here is more extensive than is contained in the hardcopy book The Church in Bondage.]

For many years, Concerned Methodists has been disturbed by the trend toward advocating the practice of homosexuality within our United Methodist Church; more recently, we are disturbed by a lack of truthfulness and deceit by some members of the laity, the clergy, and other church employees. We offer to you our analysis of this issue that is contained here in these historical occurrences that would point toward efforts to legitimize this activity.

In an interview for an article for our local paper on Concerned Methodists, I stated that "If it were possible to quantify all of the sexual sin in the world, by far the greatest would be heterosexual simply because there are so many more among the population who are engaging in sex outside of marriage: living together outside of marriage, adultery, etc." We need to keep in mind and to make clear that we are all sinners attempting to minister to other sinners. If it were possible to view with God and see that, for example, 76% of the sum total of sexual sins committed were heterosexual, this presents the problem in the "all of us" rather than just the "them" light. The problem comes in that only between .8 % and 2.4 % of the population are homosexual. So you have a maximum of 2.4% of the population committing 24% (as an example) of the sexual sin, which is disproportionately larger by far than the population as a whole. Some of this information was published previously in a position paper. Some "tall steeple" churches have cut off their apportionments: FUMC in Joplin, Missouri; FUMC in Marietta, Georgia; St. Mark's UMC in Findlay, Ohio to name a few. We believe that we are entering a period of crisis when lay people can no longer fail to act, but must make a decision. What or Whom will we serve?

In light of the recent outcomes of same-sex ceremonies performed by UM pastors, it is helpful take a look at different homosexual milestones affecting our denomination:

1972 General Conference. The following statement was added to the "Social Principles" document (after a 4 year study of homosexuality): "Homosexuals no less than heterosexuals are persons of sacred worth, who need the ministry and guidance of the church in their struggles for human fulfillment, as well as the spiritual and emotional care.... Further we insist that all persons are entitled to have their human and civil rights ensured, although we do not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider this practice incompatible with Christian teaching." In 1992, it was passed again with a vote of 75% in favor.

- United Methodist News Service (UMNS)

1976 General Conference. Adopted reports which stopped any funding of gay/lesbian support groups with church money.

- UMNS

1980 General Conference. No significant action passed.

- UMNS

1981. Affirmation (United Methodists for Gay and lesbian Concerns) protested the recent removal of gay and lesbian ministers from the pulpit and charged the UM Church with witch-hunting.

- Good News

1982. * Bishop Melvin E. Wheatley appointed Julian Rush, a self-avowed homosexual, as associate pastor of St. Paul's UM Church in Denver. Wheatley said, "Homosexuality is a mysterious gift of God's grace," and "I clearly do not believe homosexuality is a sin." Charges that Wheatley's stance had undermined "the authority of Holy Scripture" were filed by three Georgia churches. An investigative committee said in its final report that it found no "reasonable grounds" for accusing the bishop.

- Good News

* Phyllis Jean Athey and Mary Jo Osterman were united in a covenanting service at the Wheadon UMC in the Northern Illinois Conference.

1983 - 1984.* Roy Howard Beck of the United Methodist Reporter wrote on homosexual activities discovered at the general board level, including that by a bishop. He was told by Rev. Troy D. Perry, founder of the Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, that a substantial percentage of mainline Protestant agency leaders were homosexual." This was subsequently described in his book On Thin Ice.

* Phyllis Jean Athey and Mary Jo Osterman co-authored The Lesbian Relationship Handbook, published by Kinheart, an organization partially funded by the Northern Illinois Conference.

* A 3,500-member church in Colorado Springs "publicly censured" its bishop, Melvin E. Wheatley, for his active support of homosexual persons as UM ministers.

- Good News

1984 General Conference. Passed a "fidelity in marriage and celibacy in singleness" statement, which was included in Paragraph 402.2.

- UMNS

1986. The Rocky Mountain Annual Conference's Board of Ordained Ministry voted to dismiss the Julian Rush case.

- Good News

1987. UM Bishop Finis A. Crutchfield died at age 70 of AIDS.

- Good News

1988. * Phyllis Jean Athey, candidate for deacon in the UMC, shot and killed herself. Bishop J. R. Dewitt was critical of those who opposed her ordination on Biblical grounds for "causing this tragic act"; investigation pointed to the breakup with her lesbian "partner" Mary Jo Osterman.

* Opposition was surfaced to the partial funding, by the Northern Illinois Conference, of Kinheart Women's Center in Evanston, Illinois, believed to be a center for advocacy of homosexuality.

* General Conference. Voted to prohibit ordination of homosexuals by a vote of 676 to 293, or 69.76%. Yet, a measure was pushed through allocating $200,000 for a "Committee to Study Homosexuality," weighted with those supportive of the homosexual lifestyle (18, and 6 opposed it as being incompatible with Christian teachings). The General Council on Ministries (GCOM) conducted "An Analysis of Major Issues Addressed by the 1988 General Conference and a Comparison with Beliefs and Attitudes of Local Church Members." 765 out of 941 (or 81.296%) of those delegates surveyed agreed with the statement that "homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching."

- as reported in Good News , Nov.-Dec. 1990

* June 6, 1988. From a letter sent out by Jimmy Creech, chairperson, of the Raleigh Religious Network for Gay and Lesbian Equality (RRNGLE), and UM pastor of Fairmount United Methodist Church in Raleigh, NC, that delineated the priorities espoused by RRNGLE:

June 6, 1988

Dear Colleagues,

...You know full well how these times have stretched all of us in the ministry to look at issues that face our congregations, among them being human rights for all people. This issue of homosexuality has knocked at the doors of all religious people.

The Raleigh Religious Network for Cay and Lesbian Eguality is a group of concerned laity and clergy who desire to:
  • create a climate of support for basic human and civil rights for gay men and lesbians;
  • develop an understanding of religious traditions, beliefs and values that shape attitudes toward homosexuality;
  • explore ways to provide pastoral care for lesbians. gay men and their families; and
  • establish a network of resources personal interaction and on-going support for those involved in this special ministry.

We invite you to join our efforts. We formed this network as a result of the Raleigh City Council hearings on sexual discrimination last summer and to further the understanding of the passing of the anti-discrimination ordinance last November. To this end we sponsored a conference in March of this year and anticipate another in 1989. We do this in hopes of furthering understanding of this issue within a religious context.

Since the early 197O's, the gay and lesbian community has observed events to celebrate Lesbian and Gay Pride. The event this year is a march planned for Saturday, June 25 in Raleigh. Among the events surrounding the march is a call to the North Carolina Legislature to:
  • adopt a statewide anti-discrimination ordinance regarding sexual orientation;
  • repeal the Crimes Against Nature Law (CAN):
  • protect persons with AIDS (PWA's) and HIV antibody positive individuals through legislation;
  • provide funds for AIDS education;
  • enact a "hate crimes" statistics law to include sexual orientation;
  • legalize and recognize lesbian and gay relationships;
  • preserve parental and adoptive rights of lesbians and gays; and
  • recognize the inherent worth and dignity of all people.

While we have particular ecclesial and theological stances upon which we concern ourselves, nonetheless these often invisible if not absent members of our congregations ask for our support for these civil rights....

We will keep you informed of our efforts from time to time. Should you care to join us for our meeting or care to comment on our work, please contact us at the above address.

Peace,

Jimmy Creech, chairperson
Raleigh Religious Network
for Gay and Lesbian Equality 1989.

* Correspondence on the letterhead of Bishop C. P. Minnick, Jr., of the North Carolina Conference and dated January 18, 1989 was sent to pastors endorsing a two day conference sponsored by the Raleigh Religious Network for Gay and Lesbian Equality (RRNGLE).

* The United Methodist Committee to Study Homosexuality met for the first time to begin its four-year study.

- Good News

* Summer, 1989. The following was published in the Summer, 1989 edition of The Christian Methodist Newsletter:

Homosexual Endorsement and Affiliation by United Methodist Clergy. The summary of Roy Howard Beck's book, On Thin Ice, contains... allusions to sexual (both hetero- and homo-) misconduct by the clergy and members of the national boards and agencies. Not only is heterosexual immorality tolerated, but there appears to be an agenda to promote the tolerance of homosexuality. In this area, there are several questions:

  1. Why is a conference on "homophobia" endorsed by Bishop C. P. Minnick, Jr., of Raleigh, North Carolina? Why is he encouraging pastors to attend it?
  2. Since the conference is sponsored by the Raleigh Religious Network for Gay and Lesbian Equality (RRNGLE) whose political agenda is to "legalize and recognize lesbian and gay relationships," is Bishop Minnick's endorsement of the conference an implied approval of the practice of homosexuality?
  3. Why is the Reverend Jimmy Creech, pastor of Fairmount United Methodist Church, actively involved in RRNGLE?
  4. Why was reprisal action taken by personnel of the Northern Illinois Conference (NIC) against Rev. Raymond H. Kirk, a pastor with 30 years' distinguished service, because of his questioning the proposed ordination of Phyllis Athey, who had admitted to a homosexual orientation in a COSROW newsletter?
  5. Why was Dr. John D. McEachin criticized by Rev. Jack Loflin for his use of the words "homosexual" and "lesbian" as being "sensationalist" in a speech before the Mississippi Annual Conference?
  6. Since the purpose of Kinheart, Inc. is to promote the acceptance of homosexuality, why is it funded with church money?
  7. Why did the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles perform at the biennial convocation of the Fellowship of United Methodists in Worship, Music, and the Other Arts?
  8. Why is so much time and attention given to the term "homophobia"? Is it to make it a topic of discussion so that the practice of homosexuality will ever so gradually be made acceptable to us by making its practitioners appear as victims?

1990. Theologian Richard John Neuhaus reported on a pro-homosexual campaign to change church teaching through the premise that Christian doctrine and morality are "fundamentally in error." The UM Commission on Christian unity and Interreligious Concerns voted to include homosexuals. Dumbarton UMC of Washington, DC, decided against allowing a lesbian couple to wed after bowing to intense pressure.

1991. The Homosexuality Study Task Force completed three years' work on August 25 and announced it was unable to reach "a common mind" on whether the practice of homosexuality is compatible with Christian faith. The committee agreed that despite differing views, the church should be "a place of acceptance and hospitality to all persons." Earlier disagreement remained, however, on what action should be taken. A majority of the 24-member study panel wants General Conference to strike from the denomination's Social Principles the statement that homosexual practice "is incompatible with Christian teaching." A minority of the committee wants the present language retained [opposing the normalizing of homosexuality].

A "preference vote" taken by the committee in early February supported the proposed language change [making homosexuality acceptable in the UMC] by a l7-4 margin. No subsequent formal vote was taken at the August meeting, but 18 committee members signed the call for a change in the Social Principles, and four signed the request for no change. A firestorm of reaction, most of it negative, greeted the February action. Only about 60 of more than 1,100 letters [at that date] have supported the proposed change. Some 51 annual conferences took action on homosexuality this summer, with 35 asking that the present language be retained....

By request of the 1988 General Conference, GCOM setup the committee and budgeted the work at $198,000 for the quadrennium. About $172,000 had been spent prior to the August meeting.

"Those who consider homosexual practice incompatible with God's will [the minority of four therefore regard it as detrimental to the individuals involved. . . (and) can he expected to be caring and accepting.. .while. at the same time. seeking to influence a change in their sexual behavior.... Those who are convinced that homosexual orientation and covenantal practice are in accord with God's will [the majority of 18] believe that homosexual relationships need not be detrimental but may be faithful expressions of God's grace." Again, "Some members of the committee [the minority believe that (persons of homosexual orientation) should be committed to a life of celibacy, or else seek transformation to heterosexual orientation....

The committee's mandate was to note where consensus among theologians. scientists, and other disciplines exists, and where it does not.The Rev. David Seamands, Nicholasville, KY., well-known UM evangelical, said he "can live with a lot of the report now that we have carefully delineated the unresolvable differences." The minority members accepted the report because Seamands had helped write a section of nearly a dozen points at which the committee agreed they had no consensus....

"UM theologian Thomas Oden. of Drew University in New Jersey, was critical of the final report. telling Christianity Today that the denomination's commitment to the primacy of Scripture is "blatantly falsified and misrepresented in the report's appeal to experience and reason as contemporary arbiters of the hidden meaning of Scripture. "The committee has asked GCOM to recommend a church-wide study of homosexuality with the denomination developing study materials to be used by individuals, congregations, and annual conferences.

-Adapted from UM News Service, as reported in Good News Magazine

1992.* A letter signed by 100 clergy and laity in Michigan supported homosexual and lesbian "holy union" services.

* Saralyn Chesnut has been named to head the new office of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Student Life at (UM) Emory University.

* UM Bishop M. G. Talbert, joined others in calling on President-elect Bill Clinton to lift the military ban on homosexuals.

* General Conference 1992. Rejected both the majority report of the "Committee to Study Homosexuality" and the accompanying "augmentation Paragraph" of the "Social Principles" affirming "same-sex relationships"; a minority report of the "Committee to Study Homosexuality" reaffirmed the traditional church position.

- UMNS

On Monday, May 11, after an afternoon of debate, demonstration and testimony, the 1992 General Conference, by a 710-238 vote, reaffirmed its 20-year stand that the practice of homosexuality is "incompatible with Christian teaching." In retaining the...Social Principles statement, delegates were also rejecting the controversial recommendation of the four-year homosexuality study report which asked that the phrase he deleted because of the church's "lack of a common mind." In a separate vote. delegates did receive, by a 767 to 190 margin, the amended report of the Homosexuality Study Task Force, asking General Conference to "make it [the report] available for study and use across the whole church." A second recommendation said, "We recommend the development of resources consistent with the Social Principles of the United Methodist Church which support ministry to and with homosexual persons.

A strategic point in the floor debate came when the Rev. Kasongo Munza, delegate from Zaire, addressed the conference through an interpreter. The African pastor, in an impassioned voice, called the practice of homosexuality "unbiblical and non-Christian," and said any change in the church's stand would be "a source of terrible division and could destroy the church of our Lord." He added, "We don't want our culture contaminated by what we consider to be a disease."

At a news conference following the vote, the Rev. Tex Sample, professor at St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City. and a supporter of removing the "incompatible" phrase, said, "It's going to take 10 years, or 20 years, or 25 years, but this church will change its position. The victory is coming. The Rev. David Seamands, professor at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, and a strong supporter of the church's present language, said that to change the statement "would have sent a signal that we condone homosexuality because it is compatible with scripture."

- Good News

1993.* Pentecost, 1993. Letter to the North Carolina Christian Advocate Concerning Annual Conference Action Taken Regarding the North Carolina Council of Churches by The Reverend Ben Sharpe, Jr. explained the doctrinal basis of incompatibility of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches with true Christianity.

* June, 1993. The North Carolina Annual Conference. By a vote of the delegation, all funding to the North Carolina Council of Churches (NCCC) from the conference was discontinued because of the NCCC's admission into its membership the Universal Fellowship of the Metropolitan Community Churches, which accepts the practice of homosexuality as an alternative Christian lifestyle. A last-minute effort by supporters of the NCCC was narrowly defeated. - Allen O. Morris, observer.

* UM money went through the organization IMPACT to help support the Gay March on Washington.

* In November, the "Re-Imagining" Conference was conducted which affirmed lesbians, bisexuals, and "trans-gendered" people, and which was supported in part by UM money.

1993 - 1994. Members of Concerned Methodists were told that, over the space of the year between the two annual conferences, Bishop C.P. Minnick, Jr. had stressed at two cabinet meetings that he wanted the funding restored to the NCCC.

1994. * February, 1994. A "listening session" was held in Raleigh over the issue of restoring funding to the NCCC by the The North Carolina Conference.

* June, 1994. The North Carolina Annual Conference. Bishop C.P. Minnick, Jr. asked that the funding be restored to the NCCC with the thought that "a message had been sent" to the NCCC. The discontinuance of all funding to the North Carolina Council of Churches (NCCC) from the conference was maintained by a vote of approximately 78% of the delegates because the NCCC had maintained its relationship with the Universal Fellowship of the Metropolitan Community Churches.

1996. * 1996 General Conference. Voted 577 - 378 (60.4%) to approve the church's current stance in paragraph 71F that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching" and 553 - 321 to add to the Book of Discipline's "Social Principles" a statement prohibiting ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions.

* April 18, 1996. Fifteen bishops express "pain" over church policy on gay, lesbian issues.

DENVER (UMNS) -- Fifteen United Methodist bishops -- 11 active, four retired -- released a statement here April 18 expressing "pain ... over our personal convictions that are contradicted by the proscriptions in the (Book of Discipline against gay and lesbians within our church and within our ordained and diaconal ministers."
- News release by UMNS at the 1996 General Conference of the UMC, Denver, Colorado.

1997. * September 14 - Jimmy Creech conducted a service of union for two women, who attended his church, FUMC in Omaha, on Sunday, at 2 P.M. Area Bishop Joel N. Martinez said he counseled Creech that "To proceed with the ceremony would place him in noncompliance with the UM Discipline and in conflict with previous church rulings."

- UMNS

* In 1997, Emory's board of trustees, which includes five United Methodist bishops [one of whom is Lindsey Davis of the North Georgia Conference], voted unanimously to allow same-sex ceremonies in the university chapel...if the ceremony is conducted by a clergy person of that faith who has a direct tie to the university.

- Alice Smith, Executive Director of the Georgia UM Communications Council.

1998.* March 13, 1998. Thirty UM clergy have publicly declared that they will "celebrate rites of union with all couples, regardless of gender...." The "Proclaiming the Vision Committee" invited UM clergy to sign such a statement.

- From the INTERNET and Newscope, March 13, 1998.

* March, 1998. Kearney, Nebraska: ...Jimmy Creech, pastor of FUMC in Omaha, was acquitted of wrongdoing in his performance of a "covenanting ceremony" between two women alleged to be lesbians. He was found innocent by a church panel Friday, March 13th, of disobeying rules for performing a lesbian unity ceremony. Had he been found guilty by the jury of fellow ministers, Creech, a Goldsboro, North Carolina native, could have lost his position at FUMC, and been forced to surrender his ministerial credentials. Jury foreman Grant Story said the vote reflected the difficulty the church has experienced with the issue. "We have struggled, no, agonized together in a spirit of love and our hope is that United Methodists everywhere will receive our verdict in that same spirit of love and respect," Story said after the verdict was read. Creech, who was suspended from the leadership of his congregation on November 10, testified that he was simply serving the spiritual needs of two women church members. The Rev. Loren Ekdahl of Lincoln, who argued the church's side, said Creech went wrong by conducting the ceremony as if it were an official rite, "We're not talking about a simple prayer or blessing here."

- The Fayetteville Observer-Times, March 14, 1998

* March 17, 1998. In a letter to the bishops dated March 17th, Dr. Maxie Dunmam, president of Asbury Theological Seminary, wrote, "If the practice of same-sex marriages is allowed to stand...our beloved denomination will be seriously fractured if not completely divided... if we have to call a special session of the General Conference to prevent such schismatic action, let's do so. My heart is heavy. I am grieving for the church."

* March 17, 1998.
UNITED METHODISTS DENOUNCE CREECH VERDICT

An ad hoc group of pastors and lay persons from The United Methodist Church denounced the verdict in a church trial last week which acquitted a minister charged with violating church law. The Reverend Jimmy Creech of First United Methodist Church in Omaha, Nebraska had performed a "same sex covenant service" for two lesbian women last September...and [was] acquitted of the charge when only eight of the thirteen jurors in the case found him in violation of the Church's ban on performing homosexual marriages. Included among the signatories of the statement are Bob and Betty Howell and Diane West, members of First United Methodist Church in Omaha. The complete text of the statement follows:

A STATEMENT ISSUED IN RESPONSE TO THE ACQUITTAL OF THE REVEREND JIMMY CREECH
On Sunday, September 14, 1997 at 2:00 pm the Reverend Jimmy Creech of First United Methodist Church, Omaha, Nebraska performed a "homosexual union" ceremony for two lesbian women. On Friday, March 13, 1998 Reverend Creech was acquitted on the charge that, in performing this ceremony, he had been disobedient to the order and discipline of The United Methodist Church. Despite the clear Scriptural condemnation of homosexual behavior (cf. Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:18-32, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10) and the prohibition of "same sex" ceremonies by The Book of Discipline (paragraph 65C) and the Judicial Council (Decision 694), only a majority of eight of the thirteen jurors concluded that Reverend Creech had violated church law. Nine votes were needed for a conviction.

The acquittal of Reverend Creech exemplifies the failure of an institutional system to enforce the will of its governing body and to uphold its own stated principles. We find this verdict to be without meaning or impact upon the life and polity of the Church except as an illustration of the failed system which has allowed Reverend Creech to commit this act of disobedience without being held accountable. Such a system clearly stands in need of radical reform and we are committed to working toward such an end.

We affirm our commitment to the order and discipline of the Church and will have no part in any accommodation to those persons who, through word, action or complicity, have shown their contempt for the same.

We encourage all faithful United Methodists who share our convictions to prayerfully continue fighting the good fight in the local churches, districts and annual conferences, following the leadings of Scripture, enabled by the power of the Holy Spirit. Now, more than ever, we encourage active support of and participation in renewal ministries such as The Confessing Movement, Good News, UMAction, Concerned Methodists, Walk to Emmaus, Discover God's Call, Aldersgate Renewal Ministries, The Mission Society for United Methodists, Lifewatch and Transforming Congregations. Most importantly, we call upon all faithful United Methodists to pray without ceasing for a revival of God's Spirit among us.

The judgment of God is upon The United Methodist Church. We also believe, however, that God has preserved within our denomination a faithful remnant "whose knees have not bowed down to Baal. . .whose mouths have not kissed him" (cf. 1 Kings 19:18).

Therefore, firmly grounding our faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Savior and Lord; and trusting our lives and eternal destinies to the grace and mercy of God, we commit ourselves anew to the proclamation of the Gospel, to the end that all the world might hear the life-giving, life-transforming message of salvation in Jesus Christ. Such is the true heart and spirit of Methodism.
The undersigned have endorsed this statement as of Tuesday, March 17, 1998:
[List omitted due to length.]

* April, 1998. Letter from Hankyu Park, superintendent of the Shasta District of the California-Nevada Conference, said in part:

For your information, the cabinet did not make a policy on this issue [i.e., homosexual "marriages"], but supported Bethany United Methodist Church when they made decision to allow a ceremony for same sex unions to be held in their facility. It is the position of our Bishop and his cabinet that while the Social Principles are important guidelines for Christian behavior, they are not church law.

* July 22, 1998. E-mail from Bob Kuyper, Editor, Transforming Congregations, who references an article from World Magazine. Two very interesting quotes in the article are 1) about Bishop Talbert and why he has not appointed an evangelical to be a District Superintendent:

For ERF members, it's not just doctrinal differences that have disheartened them. They complain that not one evangelical has been appointed to a conference leadership position. Asked about this seeming lack of commitment to tolerance and diversity, Bishop Talbert told WORLD: "Look, I need to appoint people whom I can trust implicitly, because they represent me."
So much for inclusion of different theological views on the cabinet:
and 2) an interesting quote from the ever controversial pastor of Glide:
In an interview at the back of the church during choir rehearsal, Mr. [Cecil] Williams said his moorings are in Liberation theology. "Rules and doctrines aren't what's important; relationships are," he said. He told WORLD he has been performing union covenants for homosexual couples for more than 30 years. Asked where he'd be if the 1996 UMC statements on homosexuality had been placed higher in the Book of Discipline, in an unmistakably binding section, he thought for a moment and said: "Probably in disobedience." He added that much of the California-Nevada Conference likely would be in rebellion, too.
- E-mail; Bob Kuyper, Editor, Transforming Congregations; July 22, 1998. The information was available at http://www.worldmag.com/world/home.asp

* August,1998. The statement (proscribing same-sex ceremonies) is contained in the Social Principles section of the Book of Discipline, whereas the rest of the denomination's binding rules are contained in the main section of the book. However, the United Methodist Judicial Council, the denomination's supreme court, ruled...that the statement is enforceable.

- by United Methodist News Service; (10-21-28-71BP{291}

1999: * January 16, 1999. 69 United Methodist pastors of the California-Nevada Annual Conference co-officiated in a "holy union" service for two women Ellie Charlton and Jeanne Barnett, two members of Sacramento St. Mark's United Methodist Church, where the Rev. Donald Fado is pastor. Ellie is a member of the Conference Board of Trustees. Jeanne is conference lay leader.

List of persons accused of participating: John J. Auer, III, Brandon Austin, Donald L. Baldwin, Claire Beals-Nesmith, Robert W. Blaney, Diana Marie Bohn, Richard E. Bruner, Carol M. Carter, George Carter, Jerry Carter, John Chamberlin, Thomas Clark, Rolfe Conrad, Clifford Crummey, Donna Morrow DeCamp, Sharon Delgado, Nadine DeWitt, Steven Eatough-Smith, Janet S. Everhart, Renae Extrum-Fernandez, Donald Fado, David Franks, Glenn Fuller, Nobuaki Hanaoka, J. Richard Hart, Robert J. Hawthorne, Douglas Hayward, Thomas Hicks, Bruce Hilton, Virginia Hilton, Elbert Hoffman, Hubert L. Ivery, Alan H. Jones, Linda Kelly, Phillip Lawson, Stephen Lee, Charles Lerrigo, James Lockwood-Stewart, David MacMurdo, Theresa Mason, Victor W. McLane, Maggie McNaught, Douglas Monroe, Bob Moon, Mike Morizono, Mary Parker-Eves, Larry Patten, Ted Pecot, Cheri Pierre, Jay Pierce, Kathleen Ralston, Robert Rankin, Lynn Rhodes, Byron Roberts, Ellen Rowan, Robert Sanford, Doug Smith, Marlene Spilman, Judith Stone, Frank H. Stone, Gerald Summers, Paul Sweet, Margo Tenold, Harold A. Tillinghast, Richard Whitmore, Cecil Williams, Lee Williamson, Andrea Meek Winchester, Sargent Wright.

- UMNS #157; Nashville,Tennessee 10-21-28-71BP{157}

* January 21, 1999. The Reverend Mike Goodyear lodged a complaint against Don Fado, pastor of St. Mark's United Methodist Church, who co-officiated in a holy "union service" for two women, Ellie Charlton and Jeanne Barnett, in Sacramento.

- E-mail received at Concerned Methodists, Inc.

* March 4, 1999. Union In Northern California. Members of a Sacramento area church filed 184 formal complaints against 92 Methodist ministers who performed a controversial "holy union"ceremony for a lesbian couple...The complaints lodged by the Reverend Mike Goodyear [on January 21st] and members of FUMC in Orangevale, California stem from the highly publicized January ceremony where 92 dissident ministers blessed the relationship of Jeanne Barnett and Ellie Charlton.

Goodyear and 91 members of his flock each selected one of the dissident ministers and filed complaints, accusing each of them of disobeying church law and bringing "shame and embarrassment" upon countless United Methodists throughout the country." Their action is designed to force the hand of Northern California Methodist bishop Melvin Talbert, who has yet to take action against the ministers.
- Don Lattin, Religion Writer, San Francisco Chronicle, March 4, 1999

* March 4-7, 1999. WASHINGTON (UMNS) - GBCS. As the advocacy arm of the United Methodist Church looks to the denomination's quadrennial legislative assembly, its members are preparing to request changes in the Social Principles....During a March 4-7 meeting, governing members of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society [GBCS] approved proposals to change two paragraphs on human sexuality....at the General Conference in Cleveland, May 2-12, 2000. The assembly is the top lawmaking body of the denomination....Changes to the final paragraph of the section involved extensive discussion, which centered around the sentence: "Although we do not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider this practice incompatible with Christian teaching, we affirm that God's grace is available to all." Bishop Melvin Talbert, as chairman of the board's human welfare work area, presented the committee's recommendation to delete the first part of the sentence, leaving it as: "We affirm that God's grace is available to all." Voting member David Livingston of Shawnee, Kan., proposed to substitute for the deletion these words: "Although faithful Christians disagree on the compatibility of homosexuality with Christian teaching, ..." Eventually this was put to a vote and the substitute narrowly prevailed 19-17.

- UM News Service; March 10, 1999; Wash. 10-71BP{129}

* March 23, 1999. Bishop Talbert announces complaint against 69 pastors. Bishop Melvin G. Talbert announced today that he is referring to church counsel a complaint against 69 United Methodist pastors of the California-Nevada Annual Conference for their role in a Jan. 16 holy union service for two women. The church counsel, in this case the Rev. Paul Wiberg of Orinda, California, has the responsibility of signing the complaint and sending it to the Conference Committee on Investigation. That panel will decide whether to turn the complaint into charges, an action that could result in a church trial. The complaint was signed by two members of the bishop's cabinet. Talbert made the announcement at a noon (Pacific time) press conference in West Sacramento, California

* March 26, 1999. Dell convicted in same-sex ceremony. Following the ruling [by the United Methodist Judicial Council], the Rev. Greg Dell of Chicago performed a (same-sex) ceremony and was found guilty in a church trial. The penalty was handed down late on March 26, after two long days of testimony and deliberation in the sanctuary of First United Methodist Church. Dell, who is pastor of Broadway United Methodist Church in Chicago, was convicted of a single charge of "disobedience to the Order and Discipline of the United Methodist Church." He is appealing that verdict and the penalty - a suspension that goes into effect July 5. Despite impending suspension, the Rev. Greg Dell has declared that signing a pledge to no longer perform same-sex union ceremonies would be a "violation" of his ministry. The United Methodist pastor's comment came after a 13-member jury of his peers found him guilty of conducting such a ceremony last September and decided that he should be suspended on July 1 until he signed a pledge or until the church no longer prohibited the action. Retired Bishop Jack Tuell, who presided over the trial, later amended the date to July 5 to allow Dell to perform a July 3 wedding ceremony. Despite the verdict, the bishop declared that he continues to consider Dell "an exemplary pastor whose record of faithfulness is, in my opinion, beyond reproach." (Bishop Joe) Sprague, who filed the charge, said he had hoped to frame it in a way to provide a "teachable moment" for the church. While he believes that occurred, he added that the trial also has shown the world "the box we have put ourselves into in this denomination". During the trial, (counsel for the church) The Reverend Stephen Williams based his case along legal grounds, saying that Dell had explicitly violated Paragraph 65c in the United Methodist Book of Discipline which states: "Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches." Williams charged, and Dell agreed, that despite the ruling a month earlier, the pastor had performed the Sept. 19 union ceremony between Keith Eccarius and Karl Reinhardt at Broadway United Methodist Church. Along with disregarding the authority of the United Methodist General Conference, the denomination's highest legislative body, Dell ignored the decision of its highest court, the church counsel said. Williams also accused the pastor of failing the order of elders and pointed to Paragraph 311 in the Discipline, which calls the order a "covenant community within the church to mutually support, care for and hold accountable its members for the sake of the life and mission of the church." The prosecution called three witnesses in presenting its case: Bishop George Bashore, president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, Dell himself, and Bishop C. Joseph Sprague of the Chicago Area. Williams made his case by stressing the Judicial Council's ruling last August and by emphasizing "the plain meaning of the Discipline."...Dell said he would conduct no liturgical acts as a political witness during that period. However, under cross-examination by Williams, Dell said he would not promise to refrain from performing same-sex union ceremonies during that period. He has conducted 33 such ceremonies in the past 18 years.

- UMNS#168, March 29, 1999; New York; 10-21-71BP{168}

{The following commentary was offered by a pastor who had observed the proceedings: "The counsel for the church, allowed without objection, three homosexuals to share the validity of their lifestyle. One came from a reformed church where theology was done by using "scripture, scripture, scripture, and scripture." The other was the son of a Missouri Synod pastor who has come to accept his son's lifestyle. All of this presentation of a testimony of the validity of the homosexual lifestyle was presented without objection by the counsel of the church.}

- E-mail dated Sun, 28 Mar 1999

* April, 1999. A complaint has been filed against Reverend Mike Goodyear by his district superintendent, David Bennett. Goodyear is the pastor of the Orangevale Church, whose parishioners had filed charges against Pastor Don Fado other members of the California-Nevada Conference for participating in a "same-sex" covenanting ceremony. While the charges Goodyear and his congregation filed against Greg Dell and the participants in the "same sex" ceremony had been stalled by the judicial process in the conference, those against Goodyear have been put on the "fast track" for prosecution.

- Email from a UM pastor

* In other action, the evangelical people of St. Francis UMC in the Golden Gate District of that conference have virtually had their church stolen from them: they were yoked with another, much larger church whose members were encouraged to join St. Francis. A charge conference was then held, the St. Francis people were voted out, and other friendly to the hierarchy were voted in. Projection now is that St. Francis, with a multiracial Philippino and Anglo congregation, will be closed.

- From Personal Assistance provided to St. Francis by Concerned Methodists

* April 10, 1999.Transfer of Marietta minister
Announcement of the transfer of Dr. Charles Sineath of FUMC Marietta comes nearly a year after the church voted to withhold $58,427 in funds from the local conference over the national church's stands on social issues, including homosexuality. - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution; By Tucker McQueen.

- Source: E-mail from Mr. Janz Mynderup.

* April 14, 1999. Creech, on leave of absence from active ministry in the Nebraska Conference, performed a ceremony for two men at a church in Chapel Hill, N.C., on April 24. Martinez had advised him against participating in the service.

* April 15, 1999. Georgia church withholds funds amid talk of split.

ATLANTA (UMNS) -- The board of stewards of Marietta First United Methodist Church has voted to withhold all of the financial support that it typically provides at the conference and denominational levels. The 108-56 vote took place April 11 and applies to all of the "apportionment" dollars that have been requested of Marietta First by the larger church. Earlier this year, Bishop Lindsey Davis announced that the Rev. Charles Sineath, 60, would not be reappointed to Marietta First after 22 years....The church's total apportionments for 1999 are $268,087. Previously the church had decided to withhold about $67,000 of that amount. [Board Chairman Bucky] Smith said the board had wanted to withhold all apportionments back in March 1998, when the apportionment debate surfaced for the first time. Then, the board voted to pay all of its conference support for 1998 but to "redirect" to conference causes the amount that would have gone to certain funds at the denominational level. "Only through Charles' leadership and the board's respect for him did we withhold only about 25-26 percent," Smith said. "Now that Charles has been taken out of the picture and is not being reappointed, the action reflects what the board wanted to do a year ago."....[People] in the church...believe the cabinet's decision to move Sineath was...punitive action. "The Methodist system is broken and corrupt," said church lay leader Robin Burruss, "and I don't think we should put a penny into a broken and corrupt system."...
A 38-page report compiled by a group within the church last year cites a number of incidents in which certain general agency executives and seminary professors are alleged to have questioned the deity of Jesus and the authority of Scripture, or to have espoused feminist theology or the acceptance of homosexuality. That report, however, does not address Emory University's decision to allow same-sex ceremonies under narrow circumstances, although that action keeps resurfacing in board discussions as a key reason for withholding apportionments. In 1997, Emory's board of trustees, which includes five United Methodist bishops [one of whom is Lindsay Davis of the North Georgia Conference], voted unanimously to allow same-sex ceremonies in the university chapel...
- Internet, April 15, 1999; Nashville, Tennessee. 10-21-71B\{203\}; by Alice Smith, Executive Director of the Georgia UM Communications Council

* April 27, 1999. As of 1 A. M. EDT today, Charles (Sineath) has been relieved of all responsibilities, by Mr. Davis [i.e., Bishop Davis], as pastor of FUMC-Marietta. He is to clean out his office and not return to the premises. The reason for this action is that he is to be named tonight as the new pastor of a new church in Marietta.

- Source: Internet, E-mail from B.J. Eble, former member of FUMC Marietta, Georgia; April 27, 1999 12:31 PM

* May 12, 1999. SMU board adds sexual orientation to policy. The trustees of United Methodist-related Southern Methodist University (SMU) have approved adding the term "sexual orientation" to the school's nondiscrimination policy, but they have voted against extending benefits to same-sex domestic partners. The May 7 votes on the two issues related to sexual orientation were in response to recent proposals made by students and faculty.

- Information for this story is adapted from a May 7 news release from the News and Information Office of Southern Methodist University; UMNS #269

* May 25, 1999. Complaints filed against Creech over same-sex union ceremony.

History is repeating itself, as the Rev. Jimmy Creech once again faces complaints for his role in a same-sex union ceremony. The complaints were filed with the Bishop Joel Martinez, head of the United Methodist Church's Nebraska Annual (regional) Conference. They are being treated with the confidentiality typically given to personnel matters, so the number of complaints and the names of the complainants are not being disclosed. Creech, on leave of absence from active ministry in the Nebraska Conference, performed the ceremony for two men at a church in Chapel Hill, N.C., on April 24. Martinez had advised him against participating in the service. Creech's performance of a similar ceremony for two women in September 1997 led to a complaint and church trial last year. He was acquitted on March 13, 1998, and reinstated as pastor of First United Methodist Church of Omaha. However, he was not reappointed to the congregation for the following year, and went on leave of absence in July. Martinez is working on the "supervisory response" part of the complaint process. During last year's trial, Creech argued that he didn't break church law because the stricture against performing such ceremonies was advisory and not binding. The statement is contained in the Social Principles section of the Book of Discipline, whereas the rest of the denomination's binding rules are contained in the main section of the book.

However, the United Methodist Judicial Council, the denomination's supreme court, ruled last August that the statement is enforceable. "The law of the church is more clearly defined after the Judicial Council's ruling," (spokesman for Bishop Martinez) Luetchens said, "so I think that certainly makes a difference on the point, which was so important to the last trial (of Creech), as to whether that part of the Discipline would be interpreted as a law or as a guideline. We know now how it is to be interpreted."
- By United Methodist News Service; (10-21-28-71BP{291}

* May 27, 1999. Methodists Accept Report on Gays. Oklahoma United Methodists voted narrowly to accept a task force report on ministries relating to homosexuality after amending the report to soften divisive language. The vote was 380-362, with nine people abstaining. But the Rev. Steve Harshaw, one of two task force members who circulated a statement disagreeing with some of the report's conclusions, expressed frustration. "It means we're not living up to our standard," said Harshaw, pastor in Ryan. United Methodists continually have approved statements affirming that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. The task force was assigned to study "redemptive" ministries, particularly for homosexuals who desired to leave the gay lifestyle. But task force Chairman Stan Warfield said members felt they also needed to include information about ministries that seek to affirm homosexuals as they are. "Have we gotten used to the smell of sin?" asked the Rev. Clarence R. Shahan, the pastor in Hitchcock. "We all sin. But we don't promote sin. This is the word of God, from Genesis to Revelation. Let us accept one another, but let us not promote sin."

- The Oklahoman; 5/27/1999; By Pat Gilliland, Religion Editor

* May 27, 1999. Layman files complaint against Denver bishop. A complaint filed against United Methodist Bishop Mary Ann Swenson of Denver will be reviewed by her peers in the denomination's Western Jurisdiction. Mel Brown, a layman from Johnstown, Colorado, made two charges against Swenson in a letter to Bishop Ed Paup of Portland, Ore., president of the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops. Brown said he had complained to Swenson on August 28 that the Rev. Toni Cook, pastor of St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Denver, "has been conducting same-sex marriages for some time" but that he had received no response from Swenson about his complaint. His second charge is that Swenson "supported" a lecture by a controversial theologian, Marcus Borg, at United Methodist-related Iliff School of Theology. Last August, the Judicial Council, the denomination's supreme court, declared that a statement in the Book of Discipline prohibiting same-sex union ceremonies constituted church law and that violation of it could be a chargeable offense. No specifics have been offered about when Cook allegedly conducted such ceremonies. Bishop William Dew of Phoenix has been assigned by Paup to handle the complaint. Dew told United Methodist News Service he would attempt to resolve the situation "by mutual understanding." He said he was sending a letter to Brown on May 27 and would have one-on-one conversations with Brown and Swenson in June, as required by the Discipline. "If necessary, I will go to Colorado and have the two of them meet face to face," Dew added.

- By United Methodist News Service; (10-21-28-71B{301}

* May, 1999. UMC Clergy/Laity Begin to Publicly Call for Bishops' Resignations.
The following resolution letter was sent to Joe Sprague, bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference:

Dear Bishop Sprague,
I read in a recent news report that "despite the verdict, the bishop declared that he continues to consider Dell 'an exemplary pastor whose record of faithfulness is, in my opinion, beyond reproach.'" I am assuming that this is an accurate quote of your words. If not, I stand corrected.

In my opinion anyone who blatantly disregards the Discipline, the Scripture, the long tradition of the entire church since its inception, as well as the Hebrew practice since its beginning.....anyone who apparently does not consider what devastating consequences his actions will have upon the whole church as well as the nation IS NOT AN EXEMPLARY PASTOR with a record of FAITHFULNESS BEYOND REPROACH. Exemplary of what? Faithful to whom?

As a bishop it is your responsibility to give Scriptural, exemplary leadership to the church.

Because your own beliefs, reportedly, are not in accord with the Discipline, and more important, not in accord with the several Scriptures dealing with sexual/homosexual issues,

AND FURTHERMORE, because these issues are the very issues with which our society is wrestling at this moment in history, AND FURTHERMORE, because the church ought to give unwavering moral and spiritual guidance to a society in turmoil,

AND FURTHERMORE, because every time a bishop publicly expresses verbal support for the legitimizing of homosexuality, the witness of the church is weakened in society, especially to the homosexual community itself,

THEREFORE, I believe that you, and every other bishop who publicly expresses similar disagreements with the Discipline of the United Methodist Church, as well as, and more important, with Holy Scripture, should voluntarily resign from your office.

While it is true that we are free to "disagree" at times with the Discipline, our episcopal leaders should be far more careful and concerned about the effect such disagreements have upon the whole church. Merely pledging to uphold the Discipline is not enough...not for a bishop. A bishop, in a real sense, "represents the Discipline".

Therefore, I humbly ask you to consider resignation.

Sincerely,
Dan Tilly, pastor,
Christ United Methodist Church, Memphis

* June 10, 1999. The Rev. Greg Dell, convicted in a March church trial for performing a same-sex union, has been elected as a delegate to the United Methodist Church's top legislative body, along with the pastor who defended him.

- UMNS; June 10, 1999; Nashville, Tenn. 10-21-28-71BP{324)

* June 15, 1999. Reaction to the recent decision by the United Methodist Women's division to support a homosexual and lesbian alliance has left many in the denomination confused or angry. The largest church women's organization in America is financially supporting a homosexual student group's quest to gain official acceptance at a Salt Lake City high school. The group, called the Gay/Straight Alliance, currently rents space at East High, but the group is waging a war to gain free space at the school. Mark Tooley of the Institute on Religion (IRD) and Democracy says the leaders of the UMW are ignoring the teachings of the church by lending support - ...$11,000. UMW leaders say they are only supporting free speech. Tooley said it is odd that the largest church women's group in America has declined to stand up for prayer or Bible study groups that have faced discrimination in public schools, but have found common cause with a homosexual group.

[Note: Mr. Mark Tooley is a member of UMAction]
- American Family Radio News; June 15, 1999; http://www.afr.net

Additional information: At its spring meeting, the Women's Division directors voted approval for a grant of $11,000 to "Free School Clubs." A few directors questioned whether or not this grant could be considered as promoting homosexuality among high school students. They were assured that this was not the case. However, research done by Mark Tooley, who heads the United Methodist committee of the IRD, shows otherwise. The information compiled indicates that the $11,000 grant will help fund meetings that will rally support behind the Gay/Straight Alliance and its campaign for acceptance. The Gay/Straight Alliance has gleaned support for its legal campaign from the New York Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), the American Civil Liberties Union and the Lambda Legal Defense Fund.

- Letter from Mrs. Faye Short, RENEW network, P. O. Box 889, Cornelia, Georgia 30531; dated July 1999

* June 18, 1999. Sacramento 68' investigation will likely be long

The committee in charge of investigating a complaint against 68 California-Nevada United Methodist ministers has scheduled meetings into September, but the process will likely go beyond then, according to the panel's chairman. "This will probably be a long process, as we see it," said the Rev. Ron Swisher, head of the committee on investigation and pastor of Taylor Memorial United Methodist Church in Oakland, California.

Bishop Melvin G. Talbert, head of the United Methodist Church's California-Nevada Annual (regional) Conference, announced in March that the complaint had been filed against the clergy members. At the same time, Talbert reiterated his own opposition to the church's strictures against same-sex services.

The committee sets its own timetable for handling the complaint. The respondents themselves have a variety of viewpoints, according to the Rev. Don Fado, the pastor who organized the January ceremony. Fado leads St. Mark's United Methodist Church in Sacramento....Given the amount of work ahead, church counsel Wiberg said he expects the investigative process for the Sacramento case to be time-consuming. "I don't have a timetable in mind," he said. "I think it's important that the committee take what time it needs to do a conscientious and thorough job."
- UMNS #338; June 18, 1999; Nashville, Tenn.; 10-21-28-71B{338}

* June 30, 1999. The United Methodist Board of Church and Society has again thrown its support behind a bill that would grant all persons, regardless of sexual orientation, federal protection from workplace discrimination. An Employment Non-discrimination Act (ENDA) was supported by the board when it was first introduced in 1997, but many lawmakers in Congress felt the measure did not have the support of the religious community, according to the Rev. Thom White Wolf Fassett, staff executive of the Washington-based board. Urging the Congress to pass a new Employment Non-discrimination Act introduced last week, Fassett said..., "It would extend to homosexuals the same civil rights protections in the workplace as are accorded women, minorities, people with disabilities and religious persons."

- UMNS #360; June 30, 1999; Nashville, Tenn.; 10-21-28-71B{360}

* June 30, 1999. A Summary of Conferences Addressing Homosexual Issue

Methodist Conferences voting to change Book of Discipline regarding homosexuality in favor of the practice (or showing sympathy to that cause): California-Nevada, Central Pennsylvania, Kansas East, Minnesota, Northern Illinois Annual, Oregon-Idaho, Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountain, Troy Annual Conference, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Total - 11.

Conferences Voting to Retain Current Language : Alabama-West Florida, Baltimore-Washington, Central Texas, Dakotas Conference, Eastern Pennsylvania, Florida, Holston, Illinois Great Rivers, Kentucky, Missouri West, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Alabama, North Arkansas, North Carolina, North Texas, Northwest Texas, Oklahoma, Red Bird Missionary, South Georgia, Tennessee, West Ohio, Western New York, and Western North Carolina. Total - 24.

July 8, 1999 - Position created for Rev. Greg Dell Rev. Gregory Dell's Broadway United Methodist Church in Chicago...is allowing Dell and his wife Jade to continue living in its parsonage and has created a new year-long, three-quarter time position for him as executive director of "In All Things Charity," the first paid position for that...group which advocates within the denomination for...gays and lesbians.

- The Chicago News Planet, July 8, 1999.

August 2, 1999. Young people struggle with homosexuality issue KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Young people in the United Methodist Church, like the adults, are not of one mind on the thorny topic of homosexuality. Issues related to homosexuality were a focus of workshops held during Youth '99, the five-day gathering sponsored by the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. The 9,000 teens at the event each had a choice of attending four out of about 500 workshops. Courses addressed the Bible, careers, contemporary issues; denominational beliefs, leadership, arts, skill-building; youth ministry; spirituality, sexuality; and adventure.

The workshop "When elephants fall out of the closet," allowed participants to discuss what the United Methodist Book of Discipline says about homosexuality, same-sex unions and homosexual ordination. The 40 youth in the workshop were challenged by scriptural interpretation and how literally it needs to be interpreted; personal beliefs that conflict with scriptural beliefs; nature verses nurture; whether the Bible is relevant; whether the church is really welcoming; and equal rights. From the small group discussions, it was apparent that the young people, like the adults in the United Methodist Church, are not of a like mind on the homosexual issue. They pondered questions such as: What was Paul writing about in some of his passages that are believed to refer to homosexuality? Was homosexuality different then than it is today? Is homosexuality a sin?

"It has been said that the homosexual issue will split the church. That doesn't make sense to me, when so much else is going on," one participant noted. The teens also noted the inequity in United Methodist proscriptions. Several teens said that the rules about homosexuality were being emphasized while other types of behavior that could be deemed incompatible with the Bible were being ignored. "It is a double-standard," one said, citing the church's position on divorce as an example.

Several young people also shared stories of how the issue affects them personally..."It bothers me when people say that gay people are going to hell," the youth said. "God says not to judge anyone."

"It is frustrating that people who call themselves Christian would hate," another said. Another teen confessed to being totally confused. "Homosexuality is a sin because the Bible says so, but I'm confused or uncertain about how to look at people who are gay or talk to them. I've spent time looking at the issue and I think gayness is a choice. ... You don't have to be that way." One young person questioned whether homosexuality is a matter of choice or genetics. "If it is genetic, why would God create something against the Bible?" the youth asked. "I don't think gay people should be ordained," the teen continued. "Pastors are supposed to be Christian and like God. Being gay is a sin."

"I think you are born gay," another participant replied...."It (the Bible) was translated from another language. How do we know it is right? The Bible was written so many years ago; times have changed."
- UMNS #401, Aug. 2, 1999. Nashville, Tenn.; 10-28-71B{401}

Commentary on this news release received via E-mail on Monday, the second on Aug 02 22:28:39 1999, from two United Methodist pastors: Pastor #1: "Now our youth are being led astray by official UM agencies." Pastor #2: "Of course they are! What better way to control the church than by the next generation of pew sitters. They'll already be accustomed to homosexuality being a non-sin. All I can say is if you have kids, raise them in another denomination and not the UMC."


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