From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Methodist Minister Pressured Into Silence

Date 04 May 1996 20:38:44


96010       Methodist Minister Pressured Into Silence  
                 After Declaration of Lesbianism 
                          by Tracy Early 
                  Ecumenical News International 
NEW YORK CITY--A prominent Methodist clergywoman who recently announced 
that she is a lesbian has agreed -- after coming under pressure within her 
church -- to stop talking publicly about the issue of homosexuality. 
     The Rev. Jeanne Audrey Powers, an executive of the United Methodist 
Church's Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns, 
announced in July last year that she was going public about her lifelong 
lesbianism as "an act of resistance to false teachings that have 
contributed to heresy and homophobia within the church itself." 
     The official view of the United Methodist Church is that homosexuality 
is "incompatible with Christian teaching." 
     Conservatives in the church called for sanctions against Powers' 
commission on the grounds that the United Methodist Discipline forbids the 
use of denominational funds "to promote the acceptance of homosexuality." 
     In a statement released from the commission's New York headquarters on 
Jan. 3, Powers said, "The General Council on Finance and Administration and 
the president and general secretary of my own commission believe it is now 
difficult to separate my personal statements from those I may make as 
associate general secretary of the commission." 
     Accordingly, she said, she had "decided to limit my public speaking 
through General Conference to other issues on the ecumenical and 
interreligious agenda." 
     The General Conference, a policy-making body that meets once every 
four years, will meet in Denver April 16-26, 1996.  Supporters of a more 
liberal approach to homosexuality will make a major effort, as they did 
unsuccessfully in 1992, to change church policy. 
     Powers, who is due to retire in September 1996, said she had 
considered retiring earlier "to ensure my personal freedom to encourage a 
change in the  Book of Discipline.'" However, she decided against that 
because of her concern for other issues coming before the General 
Conference and "because I have been vocationally committed to the unity of 
the church." 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


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