August 18, 2006
Volume 34
Issue 33
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United Methodist clergywomen demand full inclusion of LGBT persons in church
United Methodist clergywomen demand full inclusion of LGBT persons in church
United Methodist clergywomen from around the world are in Chicago this week through Thursday, to celebrate 50 years of full clergy rights for women at the 2006 International United Methodist Clergywomen's Consultation. Following the spirited sermon of retired Bishop Judith Craig on Monday, those in the audience who were painfully aware of the continued knocking of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) persons on the closed doors of the church [engaged] in protest actions during worship at 10:30 am Tuesday, August 15, 2006.

Currently, The United Methodist Church is divided over the rights of LGBT persons in the church. In October, 2005, the Judicial Council the highest legal body of The United Methodist Church, ruled that a pastor may withhold church membership from LGBT persons. This ruling has sent shock waves through a church that markets itself as "the church of open hearts, open minds, open doors."

Bishop Craig preached on Luke 18:1-8, a story about a widow who kept knocking on a judge's door until justice was given her. Bishop Craig likened the early pioneers in the women's ordination movement to the widow, as they kept knocking on the doors of the church until women were given full ordination rights in 1956. She noted that persons sometimes knock until their knuckles are bloody to finally bring about change.

As consultation participants gathered for [the] session, they passed by clergywomen knocking on doors. Available for signing was a "Bloody Knuckle Petition" which asked signers to covenant to take the following actions:

o Educate ourselves and our congregations about the issues affecting LGBT persons

o Pray communally and privately for LGBT people who are wounded and excluded by the church's sin of homophobia

o Offer tangible and vocal support (like cookies and Kleenex) to your LGBT friends and family

o Help to elect General Conference delegates who will do all in their power to ensure the full inclusion of LGBT persons in church and society

o Communicate with General Conference delegates about the critical important of electing fair-minded, faithful Judicial Council members

o Become familiar with and involved in justice ministries that are working for the full inclusion of LGBT persons (e.g. Reconciling Ministries Network and Methodist Federation for Social Action

Additional protest actions are also being planned.

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