Sermon    June 23, 2019  Scripture: Luke 8: 26-39       When Andra and I talked about our report about Annual Conference, she asked me to give some history.   So, I want to give you a little background.  The General Conference of our denomination meets every four years to adopt and revise the Book of Discipline which is the regulations and official stances of our denomination.   General Conference is made up of delegates elected by the different Annual Conferences based upon their membership. In 2020 our Conference will have two voting delegates.   In the 1970’s for the first time words were added to our Book of Disciple by General Conference that stated that the practice of homosexuality was incompatible to Christian teachings.    Our Bishop Elaine was a youth observer at one of those General Conferences and remembers that there was debate about whether the Bible actually condemns the homosexual relationships we know today.  So it was decided to say incompatible with Christian teachings because, as Albert Outler  the professor of Wesley studies who proposed the language suggested  Christian teachings do change over time.    But since that time the language of our Discipline has become rather set in stone.  Attempts at each General Conference since then to change, modify or overturn this language and the language that prohibits ordination and marriage of GLBTQ persons have not succeeded.           Some Annual Conferences over the years have decided to adopt different understandings of Christian tradition and teachings and include the experiences and ministries of LGBTQ persons. Our Annual Conference has been part of that movement for a long time.  I can remember many heartfelt discussions and sharing around the topic over my 30 + years.    Other Conferences in the Western Jurisdiction have also taken this stance. The movement in our denomination has been called the Reconciling Movement.  Many local churches across the country and in our conference have decided to become Reconciling Congregations who are open to full inclusion of GLBTQ persons in their ministries and practices.           At the 2016 General Conference in Portland the conference decided to ask the Council of Bishops to come up with a plan for how the church could best work through this controversial issue.  The proposal was to hold a special General Conference in 2019 to look just at the issue of human sexuality and the inclusion or not of the LGBTQ community in the life of our denomination.       There was a Commission on the Way Forward made up of a wide range of points of view and perspectives who worked on some plans to present to this Conference.  One of our clergy members Donna Pritchard worked long hours on this...

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