chapter  2
28 Pages

History and Participants

As noted in Chapter One, a certain amount of background information is necessary in order to make sense of the particular moment in the UMC homosexuality struggle that was General Conference 2000. This chapter begins by setting the historical context of the current contention, which requires an introduction to the history of the United Methodist Church, to some of its structures and procedures, and to its “American-ness.” The nature of the contemporary Western LGBT identity also plays an important role in the struggle; I provide a short account of the development of this identity up to and including the beginning of the intra-denominational contention. I then turn to an account of the struggle itself from 1972 (when the fi rst homosexuality-related language appeared in the Book of Discipline) through General Conference 2000. The chapter concludes with a discussion of how the UMC struggle is similar to, and different from, the related confl icts within the PCUSA, the ELCA, and the Episcopal Church.