By Rich Peck and Tim Tanton
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The Connectional Table suspended business Nov. 19 for conversation around inclusiveness after a disruption by Love Prevails, a group advocating inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer people in the life of The United Methodist Church.
The disruption began in the morning session, as Love Prevails member Julie Todd, a New England Annual (regional) Conference pastor, walked among the meeting tables, singing the names of people who lost their clergy credentials, abandoned plans to go into United Methodist ministry or left the church because of the denomination’s position on homosexuality.
When the Connectional Table members began reciting together the covenant under which they would conduct their business, Todd’s voice rose in competition.
“Stop, stop, we’ve got to stop!” said table member Cynthia Kent. “I’m embarrassed.
“Were we not talking about peacemaking just yesterday?” Kent asked the group. “We’re not acting right here. … Somebody’s got to talk to somebody.”
After Kent’s statement and an emotional appeal by table member Fred Brewington, Bishop Bruce Ough, chairperson, called for a break. He and members of the Connectional Table met with the handful of Love Prevails members, and when the meeting reconvened, the Connectional Table approved changing its agenda to create time for Christian conferencing on the issue.
The 59-member Connectional Table brings together leaders from around the church to coordinate the mission, ministries and resources of the denomination. Love Prevails is the action arm of Kairos CoMotion, an unofficial United Methodist group founded by the Rev. Amy DeLong of Wisconsin.