July 21, 2011
By Heather Hahn
During annual conference season, hundreds of United Methodist clergy around the United States expressed their willingness to defy the denomination’s ban on officiating at same-sex unions.
Organizers say at least 900 active and retired United Methodist clergy have signed on to blessing such unions. That’s about 2 percent out of the nearly 44,400 United Methodist clergy in the United States. However, the raw numbers do not convey the full scope of support in some conferences. In Northern Illinois, for example, nearly a third of the conference’s clergy — 212 of 696 — signed the statement.
Longtime church observers say the number of clergy who indicate they are willing to bless same-sex unions regardless of church law is a new turn in what has been a longstanding church debate. . .
The Rev. Rebekah Miles, an ethics professor at Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology, will be part of Arkansas’ General Conference delegation for a third time. She and her brother and fellow delegate, the Rev. John Miles II, disagree on the Book of Discipline’s language regarding homosexuality. However, they both agree it is unlikely to change any time soon.
“With the demographics of the church,” she said, “the votes simply are not there.”
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