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Bishop Decides In Favor Of Pro-homosexuality Agency


March 1, 2001

James Winkler, General Secretary
General Board of Church & Society of
The United Methodist Church
100 Maryland Avenue, N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20002-5664

RE: Complaint Under ∂806.9: Christian Social Action, November/December 2000

Dear Jim:

The GCFA ∂806.9 review team has completed its investigation of the complaint it received in late November, regarding the November/December 2000 issue of Christian Social Action. On behalf of the review team, I would like to thank you for your time, effort and cooperation in complying with our request for detailed information about this publication.

The review team has concluded that GBCS did not violate ∂806.9 in this publication, for several reasons. First, and most importantly, the review team thought that most of the articles (as well as the overall theme of the magazine), written and submitted by individuals, were focused on the life stories and experiences of homosexual persons and their families. The articles did not promote homosexuality as a lifestyle or practice. The Book of Discipline obligates the Church to be in ministry with and for homosexual persons, and the review team concluded that no matter how one feels about homosexual practice, it is difficult to minister to and with homosexual persons without having knowledge of and insight into their experiences, especially the more painful ones.

Second, the review team found it helpful to know that GBCS rejected publication of one story in particular that called for disobedience to the Book of Discipline regarding homosexuality. The fact that GBCS rejected such a story added credibility to your assurance to us that GBCS understands its obligation under ∂806.9 and was not promoting the acceptance of homosexuality in this publication.

Third, the review team also found it helpful that you included on page nine of the publication a listing of all of the relevant Disciplinary provisions, not just selective portions.

Fourth, the editorial page that you wrote also was helpful, because it specifically informs your readers that GBCS is not promoting the acceptance of homosexuality.

The review team was concerned with the cover to the publication. Editors of course try to use covers that capture the readerís immediate attention and make a point, but the review team felt that this particular cover was unnecessarily inflammatory. The issue of homosexuality is such a sensitive one from any perspective that it is not helpful when a strong visual presentation and headline fan the flames. The review team discussed whether the cover alone might constitute a violation of ∂806.9 and concluded that it did not. Despite the fact that it is inflammatory, the review team concluded that the coverís theme relates to hospitality and ministering to homosexual persons rather than to the Churchís position on homosexuality. However, the review team cautions the General Board of Church and Society about being sensitive to and respectful of the diverse views of the denomination and the two official positions of the Church (i.e.1) homosexual persons are welcomed; 2) homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching).

We respectfully request that, if you decide to publish information about the complaint and its outcome, you include this letter and our letter to the persons who filed the complaint in their entirety. Thank you for your cooperation in that regard.

We again thank you for your cooperation in this important investigation. The review team takes its responsibility very seriously and we are grateful for the thorough response that you provided.

Sincerely,

 

 

Bishop Alfred L. Norris
GCFA President

Cc: Bishop Robert Fannin, GCFA Vice-President
Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, GCFA Member
Bishop Clifton Ives, GBCS President
∂806.9 Review Team Members and Staff
James Heidinger, President, Good News
Patricia Miller, Executive Director, Confessing Movement
Mark Tooley, Executive Director, UMAction

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