chapter  1
13 Pages

Introduction

It’s the second-to-last day of the United Methodist Church’s (“UMC”) 2000 denominational meeting, the General Conference. Delegates to this gathering have just voted to retain language characterizing homosexuality as “incompatible with Christian teaching” in the Book of Discipline, the denomination’s compilation of policies and doctrines. I watch, heartbroken, along with dozens of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (“LGBT”) United Methodists (“UMs”)1 and their supporters as the delegates prepare to vote on several other measures that restrict LGBT UMs in the life of the church. Suddenly, the work of General Conference is shut down as a multitude of LGBT UMs and their allies enter the delegate area to protest the “incompatibility” vote. They wear clergy stoles provided by pastors who had to give up their ministries in order to live openly as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. The protesters are also clad in buttons, stickers, and other paraphernalia traditionally found at a Gay Pride festival, and many wear crosses with rainbows painted on them, signaling their identity as LGBT Christians. This is their second day of protest; almost 200 of them were arrested the day before, along with a UMC bishop.