The Council of Bishops won’t make their final announcement until October, but I’ve seen enough results to call the winner on the United Methodist Church (UMC) All Means All Amendment (go here for more details on Amendment One). We lost.
A tally appeared online in mid-June, I don’t know from whom, and while the spreadsheet is now offline I do have a pdf of the page taken June 29. After Desert Southwest and Indiana voted in early July, the spread shrank 0.16%, with 50.08% against the amendment and 49.92% for it. The sheet went offline shortly thereafter.
If all we had to worry about were the remaining 11 conferences, I’d still be holding out hope. However, the international nature of the UMC puts us solidly in the loss category. This tally excluded non-US conferences where the UMC is a much more conservative body. It’s a foregone conclusion that votes from African and Asian countries where even speaking out in favor of gays is literally illegal will be nearly unanimous against Amendment One. To withstand the avalanche of international NO votes, we needed to have a buffer several times larger than the 1% that we seem to have had.
The sad part is that generally speaking, I think the people in the pews are much less rigid than this. My experience is that most people who are uncertain about the issue of homosexuality are solidly in the “Let’s put that aside” category. Unfortunately, AC representatives tend to be older and more conservative (they can afford to go to conference for a week) and they tend to hold the position for many years.
In some churches it’s nearly impossible to get people, even pastors, engaged in issues concerning the greater church. Consequently, change is slow in coming because of outdated ideas, outright lies from our opponents, and simple inertia. And so just like last April, the bigots win the day while more people are harmed by the United Methodist Church.
The UMC has made its decision against welcoming all people in our church. For at least the next three years, we will continue to allow pastors to make heterosexuality a requirement for discipleship.
Like it or not, this is the Church we are. Forgive me for not being a proud Methodist.