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Activists favoring an inclusive church maintained a silent vigil on May 20 at the edge of the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, Ore. Photo by Paul Jeffrey, UMNS.

Photo by Paul Jeffrey, UMNS

Activists favoring an inclusive church maintained a silent vigil on May 20 at the edge of the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, Ore.

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LGBTQ people gather for final demonstration

 

By Kathy L. Gilbert
May 20, 2016│PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS)

Where does a LGBTQ person go to church this Sunday?

That was a question posed by Sue Laurie after a large group of LGBTQ people circled the floor of the 2016 General Conference singing, “I am not forgotten, you are not forgotten, God knows your name."

At the end of closing worship, LBGTQ people flooded onto the floor of the conference and laid their stoles on the communion table in a last show of support for each other.

Laurie said the demonstrations were a final chance for LGBTQ people to surround and support each other before everyone leaves General Conference and returns to their local churches.

Susan Laurie, 21 years after answering God’s call to ministry, was unofficially ordained as a United Methodist pastor by a grassroots group of LGBTQ people and supporters at 10:32 a.m. on May 10 inside the Oregon Convention Center.

“Queer people got no justice from this General Conference,” said Jayson Dobney, an advocate for LBGTQ people in The United Methodist Church. “The bishop’s actions were glimmers of hope, but the system has done so much harm. This was an attempt to let them know we are still here.”

General Conference delegates apparently have hit the pause button on the denomination's quadrennial debates related to homosexuality.

Late May 18, the delegates voted to accept the recommendation of the Council of Bishops to delay a debate on homosexuality at this gathering of the denomination’s top legislative assembly and let a proposed commission study church regulations.

Julie Todd, an LGBTQ advocate with Love Prevails, said she feels a strange combination of emotions at the end of this General Conference.

“I am disappointed, but not at all surprised,” she said. “I do not believe The United Methodist Church cares about LBGTQ people or justice of any kind.

“In the end,” she added, “the institution will do what it will to maintain power and the status quo.”

Gilbert is a multimedia news reporter for United Methodist News Service. Contact her at (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.