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Attempt at ‘Holy Conversation’ also brings pain

July, 2017

Mark Miller stands at the microphone, surrounded by supporters, to protest the church's lack of inclusiveness in its process of Holy Conversation at the 2012 United Methodist General Conference in Tampa, Fla. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.

A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.

Mark Miller stands at the microphone, surrounded by supporters, to protest the church's lack of inclusiveness in its process of Holy Conversation at the 2012 United Methodist General Conference in Tampa, Fla.

 

by Linda Bloom
by Linda Bloom

An attempt by General Conference to have a “holy conversation” about sexuality instead brought pain to gay, bisexual, lesbian, and transgender people, a delegate said Thursday evening.

Speaking on a point of personal privilege at the end of the business session, Mark Miller, a lay delegate from the Greater New Jersey Annual (regional) Conference, said the planned small-group discussion a day earlier “failed” because of a lack of leadership and oversight.

“Yesterday, the church did us harm, but when we are hurt, the church is hurt,” he said, adding that they felt bullied during the process.

A small group of people gathered around him in solidarity, but when Miller called for more to join them, Bishop Robert Hayes, Jr., who was presiding, admonished him, saying it “was not the time or the place” for such a demonstration.

The bishop agreed that not all had gone well yesterday, but noted there had been “a sincere attempt” at holy conferencing.

Miller asked the bishop to pray for them and he did.