Is It Time for a Schism?

By Peggy Gaylord, Affirmation Co-spokesperson

I and others of our coalition had an interesting opportunity to meet with some of the leadership of the Good News, Confessing Movement and others.

I think it's ironic that none of us from our coalition leadership mentioned schism as an alternative. I expressed that Affirmation remains committed to full inclusion of all, where all means all. In my growing up years, I found that the Methodist Church allowed for a diversity of opinions. I graduated from high school in 1971, so no restrictive language related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender had yet been written into The Book of Discipline (General Conference started in 1972).

In 1972 when I could vote for the first time, there were three Methodist-identified Presidential candidates-George McGovern, George Wallace, and Shirley Chisolm, reflecting some significant diversity. I grew up believing that we could co-exist with differences such as these because we had a common core belief in Jesus Christ and the necessity of acting on our call to live out the gospel. As I have expressed often throughout this General Conference, I see nothing exclusionary about Christ's example.

Even if we were to agree that homosexuality is a sin as purported by a number of delegates speaking on the floor-with which Affirmation clearly doesn't agree-I remember Tony Campolo asking, why are we targeting this particular sin? There are only a handful of references in the Bible, including the Old Testament, that might be interpreted as being specific about homosexuality; there are over 500 references to greed. Why aren't we taking greed more seriously?

Affirmation uses consensus to make our organizational decisions. Parliamentary procedure is majority rule with minority consent, essentially only two positions. This does not allow for working through to create something new whereas consensus often allows for a new possibility, something that none of us had thought of. How can we do that within the UMC? How can we enact our belief: "In God, all things are possible"?


Source: Drops of Water, May 6, 2004, GC 2004 Issue 7. Published Daily During GC 2004 by Affirmation: United Methodists for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns

See also: Where Do We Go From Here? by Ken Rowe, Affirmation Co-spokesperson and Conservatives Consider 'Separation' of United Methodist Church