Mark Miller stands at the microphone, surrounded by supporters, to protest the church’s lack of inclusiveness in its process of Holy Conversation at the 2012 United Methodist General Conference in Tampa, Fla. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.

By Linda Bloom, originally appeared on gc2012conversations.

An attempt by General Conference to have a “holy conversation” about sexuality instead brought pain to gay, bisexual, lesbian, and transgender people, a delegate said Thursday evening.

Speaking on a point of personal privilege at the end of the business session, Mark Miller, a lay delegate from the Greater New Jersey Annual (regional) Conference, said the planned small-group discussion a day earlier “failed” because of a lack of leadership and oversight.
“Yesterday, the church did us harm, but when we are hurt, the church is hurt,” he said, adding that they felt bullied during the process.

A small group of people gathered around him in solidarity, but when Miller called for more to join them, Bishop Robert Hayes, Jr., who was presiding, admonished him, saying it “was not the time or the place” for such a demonstration.

The bishop agreed that not all had gone well yesterday, but noted there had been “a sincere attempt” at holy conferencing.

Miller asked the bishop to pray for them and he did.

6 COMMENTS

  1. if the gc2012 is not the time
    AND in this august body it also Is Not the place,
    Then when and where,, PRAY TELL,

    is
    the

    time

    and

    where
    is

    the place.

    Did God and Jesus wait for just THE PERFECT PLACE.

    “take me to the river to pray”. NOW and HERE. pls god!

  2. This would be the business side (obsessed with protocol and Robert’s Rules of Order) rather than the human, personal side (concerned about actual people and their spiritual health and well-being) of the church conference process coming out..

  3. The Holy Conversations weren’t intended to be a Robert’s Rules time, Ted, they were supposed to be a time to find common ground and communicate across divisions, and instead what I’ve heard from many participants is that many of the small groups immediately sunk into the same old screeds.

    I would like to point out, also, that there are more hearts breaking than just those who personally identify as LGBT. There were plenty of allies in those conversations who felt bullied and put down on account of their stance in support of inclusion.

  4. Putting oppressed and persecuted people in a room with others who fiercely defend their own privilege and telling them to talk it out… we’ve been forcing this scenario repeatedly over the past 15 years in the UMC, and the consequences are always the same. We did this exact same thing at AC under Bishop Galvan, and it produced similar results. Status quo maintained, people feeling silenced, folks feeling resentful and hurt.

  5. It reminds me of the saying (by Ezra Earl Jones?) that “The system is designed for the results it is getting.”

    I don’t expect that the planners designed the “holy conversations” with the intent of having that kind of damaging stuff happen … but what did they do that was built on learnings from all previous attempts, to make these sessions safe and useful?

  6. Maybe it is time for a moment of true honesty at GC, a time to acknowledge that the process of voting on what the Bible means is incompatible with Christian teaching and leads us to need to change our motto to “Making disciples of those we deem acceptable and making them not so much disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world as disciples of our voting majority’s interpretation of Jesus Christ in conformation with that majority’s views. I don’t know whether I am saddened more by this event or its utter predictability.

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