UMAction Briefing HomepageMark Tooley
Institute on Religion and Democracy



September 22, 2000

The chairman of the IRD's United Methodist committee (UMAction) is expressing deep concern about the nomination of a new church agency head who disagrees with the United Methodist Church's official stand against homosexual practice, same-sex unions, and homosexual clergy.

The outgoing directors of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, the largest national church lobby office, have nominated a new general secretary who openly rejects the denomination's strong stand that homosexual practice is "incompatible with Christian teaching."

"The General Conference of our church again spoke decisively when it overwhelmingly reaffirmed traditional Christian beliefs on sexual morality and marriage," said United Methodist Action Chairman David Stanley of Muscatine, Iowa, a lifelong United Methodist. "The appointment of a new agency head who publicly opposes our church and the Bible on this vital issue is an insult to all faithful United Methodists." As the church's top governing body, the General Conference voted in May by margins of two to one or more to reaffirm the church's historic disapproval of homosexual behavior and same-sex unions.

The executive committee of the outgoing board has nominated Jim Winkler, who has served for 15 years on the board's Washington staff. Winkler supports "Reconciling Congregations," a pro-homosexuality advocacy group that has attempted unsuccessfully to pressure the church into changing its stand on sexual morality and marriage.

The full outgoing board has voted on Winkler's nomination by mail ballot. According to Winkler, the new board will also vote on his nomination in October. The nomination must then be confirmed by the church's General Council on Ministries, which routinely accepts the staff recommendations of church boards. Boards of directors serve for four years. General Secretaries may serve up to 12 years.

In a statement to UMAction, Winkler said he would "seek the implementation of the Social Principles and other policy statements of the General Conference on Christian social concerns" and expressed hope that he could "work together with UMAction and with all who follow Christ." Winkler did not disavow his support for pro-homosexuality causes.

The Board of Church and Society is the public policy arm of the United Methodist Church, an 8.4 million member denomination.

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