Saturday, May 3, 2008

General Conference 2008 closes with Hope

General Conference concluded on an optimistic note on Friday night. The second-to-last vote changed our definition of family. The changes are as follows (where strike-through is what has been removed, and bold is what has been added from the old definition):
The Family-We believe the family to be the basic human community through which persons are nurtured and sustained in mutual love, responsibility, respect, and fidelity. We affirm the importance of both fathers and mothers loving parents for all children. We also understand the family as encompassing a wider range of options than that of the two-generational unit of parents and children (the nuclear family)., including the extended family, families with adopted children, single parents, and couples without children. We affirm shared responsibility for parenting by men and women where there are two parents and encourage social, economic, and religious efforts to maintain and strengthen relationships within families in order that every member may be assisted toward complete personhood.
This definition is still far from perfect in my world, but I am VERY pleased with it. I STRONGLY believe that something we need to do as a church is stop categorizing people and begin to understand that ALL means ALL... to define individuals through lists is to always leave someone out.

The other BIG change that came was the final legislation of the night, which is important because of Judicial Decision 1032, in which Joey Heath was told he could not transfer his membership from one United Methodist Church to another because he was gay and not welcome as a member in the new church. Now, language has been inserted into our Book of Discipline that can protect this from happening, for any professing member in good standing of a church SHALL (not may) be able to transfer their membership into a United Methodist Church.

It was an incredibly positive way to end our conference. Praise God for the victories and celebrations with which we were able to close.

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