Washington Post, 5 May 04
Methodists Condemn Homosexuality
By Alan Cooperman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Delegates at a United Methodist Church conference voted yesterday to
condemn homosexuality and to reject a statement saying Christians
disagree on the issue.
Gay rights supporters wearing rainbow-hued stoles, or clerical
scarves, stood throughout the emotional debate at a Pittsburgh
convention center. One symbolically smashed an empty chalice at the
end of a communion service after delegates voted 579 to 376 to
declare that, "The United Methodist Church does not condone the
practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible
with Christian teaching."
Later, however, the church's highest court handed gay rights
supporters a partial victory by ruling that it does not have
authority to overturn the acquittal of an openly lesbian minister,
the Rev. Karen Dammann, by a jury of 13 Methodist clergy in Seattle
The Judicial Council's 5-to-4 ruling said that in the future,
Methodist ministers who are found in a church trial to be
"self-avowed, practicing homosexuals" cannot hold any appointment in
the church. But it said the decision "shall be applied only
The vote against homosexuality was a reaffirmation of the stand taken
at recent General Conferences, held every four years. Liberals in the
8.3 million-member U.S. denomination had pushed for a statement that
"Christians disagree on the compatibility of homosexuality with
Christian teaching and affirm that God's grace is available to all."
It was defeated, 527 to 423.
Conservatives and evangelicals said the vote would help prevent the
kind of schism threatening the Episcopal Church. But the Rev. Kathryn
Johnson, executive director of the Methodist Federation for Social
Action, said the church is "not telling the truth. We're stating in
our social principles that the church stands for something when in
fact we're deeply, deeply divided."