LGBT people were called drug addicts, prostitutes and alcoholics. They/we were accused of practicing bestiality. They/we were denounced as evil. All that during a time ironically called “holy conferencing,” a time during General Conference set aside for dialogue on issues of human sexuality on April 25. The following day, Mark Miller, an openly gay man and the best known music director in the UMC, stood on the floor of General Conference and asked for a point of personal privilege. He went on to name what had happened the day before: “We were bullied emotionally, spiritually and physically, and it didn’t seem like anyone did anything. We abide by Wesley’s rule of ‘do no harm,’ and we feel the rule is broken.” Miller asked other LGBT delegates to stand with him, and was then cut off and ruled out of order. But the witness continued after the evening session, when hundreds of people stood in silent protest outside the plenary meeting space.
Meanwhile, legislative proposals to remove the Incompatibility Clause, end the bans on ordaining gays and lesbians and same-sex marriage all failed in committee.
Week one of General Conference had a distinctly Good Friday feel to it.
But we are an Easter people, we believe that in God all things are possible. Week two at General Conference will bring efforts to revisit the prejudiced and discriminatory language of the Book of Discipline in plenary sessions and, regardless of the outcome, the witness of the loving, radically inclusive Gospel will continue to be made in the face of hate, fear and institutional exclusion. There is life, integrity, even justice in the midst of injustice because we live it.