General Conference 2008: 'Incompatible' Retained in Discipline

April 30, 2008

By Bruce Pettit

California-Nevada News Service


FORT WORTH, April 30, 2008 – General Conference 2008 voted this afternoon to retain the phrase that "homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching." The vote was 501 to 417, or 55 to 45 percent. The phrase has been in the United Methodist Book of Discipline since 1972.


Fred Brewington, lay delegate from the New York Conference and chair of the Committee on Church and Society 2, which considered all the sexuality issues here, spoke just before the vote. He said that the "incompatible" phrase is contradictory to two other sentences that are in the same paragraph of the Book of Discipline – that were added in 2000: "We implore families and churches not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends. We commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons."


But Eddie Fox, clergy member of the Holston (East Tennessee) Conference, prevailed, speaking for retaining the "incompatible" phrase: "God created maleness and femaleness and declared it good." He said keeping the phrase is "at the very heart of our Church." To take out the phrase, he said, "is to imply that homosexuality is not incompatible with Christian teaching."


The General Conference action reversed the recommendation of the legislative committee, which had drafted a new paragraph taking out the phrase and substituting, in part, the sentence: "Faithful, thoughtful people who have grappled with this issue deeply disagree with one another; yet all seek a faithful witness."