The Soulforce 10th Anniversary Reunion & Direct Action at the 2008 General Conference of the United Methodist Church

The Soulforce 10th Anniversary Reunion and Direct Action at the 2008 General Conference of the United Methodist Church

A Soulforce Open Letter to Members of the United Methodist Church

Gil Caldwell: The United Methodist Church, it’s deja vu all over again [pdf]

Photos from the 10th Anniversary Reunion & Direct Action

Reconciling Ministries Photos at flickr.com

Soulforce Tenth Anniversary Video

Video from "The Struggle Continues: Racism and Heterosexism in the Church"

Celebrating a Decade of Relentless Nonviolent Resistance

April 25 – 27, 2008 in Fort Worth, Texas

Soulforce 10th Anniversary & Reunion Gala
Friday, April 25, 2008, at 7:30pm

Soulforce is pleased to announce our 10th Anniversary & Reunion Gala at 7:30pm on Friday, April 25, 2008, at the Marriott Dallas/Fort Worth Airport South Hotel (hotel info) – near Fort Worth. The evening will be an opportunity for us to connect with old friends, share stories from direct actions during Soulforce’s first decade, and think ahead about the challenges we face in the next decade. This upbeat evening will include refreshments, video, music, and guest speakers, with an opportunity to celebrate our history before we join together to begin the more serious and focused work of challenging the injustice within the United Methodist Church on Saturday and Sunday. More details coming soon! Register now!

Direct Action at the 2008 UMC General Conference

Saturday & Sunday, April 26-27, 2008

Schedule of Events

Read the personal invitation from Rev. Dr. Mel White.

Read the call to action from civil rights leader Gil Caldwell.

Read the call to action from civil rights leader Phil Lawson.

Soulforce will continue our history of resisting injustice within the United Methodist Church with a direct action at the 2008 General Conference in Fort Worth, Texas. The decision makers that Soulforce needs to reach are the 1000 clergy and lay delegates of the General Conference. Most of the delegates are from the U.S., but many come from Africa (the two largest regional conference delegations), Europe, Asia and elsewhere around the world.

The United Methodist Church, a global denomination, is the second largest Protestant denomination in the United States (after the Southern Baptist Convention). The neoconservative, Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD), based in Washington, D.C., has played a key role in fomenting misinformation about LGBT persons and same-gender families within the United Methodist Church.

United Methodists who are prominent in U.S. politics include Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush, John Edwards and Dick Cheney. The denomination expresses its openness to a broad range of viewpoints in the church with its official slogan of "Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors". Many United Methodists recognize the insincerity of this declaration in light of the exclusion of LGBT persons.

The current Surgeon General nominee, James W. Holsinger, a leader of an IRD-backed renewal group, the "Confessing Movement," presides over the Judicial Council ("Supreme Court") of the United Methodist Church which issued "Decision 1032" in 2006. In Decision 1032 the highest church court in the United Methodist Church granted sole authority to local United Methodist Church pastors to deny church membership to LGBT persons.

Progressives and moderates in the United Methodist Church have rallied in opposition to Decision 1032. But progressives are now on the defensive — with little hope of pressing for LGBT ordination, they are now forced to petition General Conference to overturn the anti-LGBT membership "law" established by the UMC Judicial Council.

Your presence is vital to creating a visible presence and strong voice for justice. Come to Fort Worth and be a part of continuing Soulforce’s history of seeking justice within the United Methodist Church. Register now!

The Soulforce History of Seeking Justice within the United Methodist Church:

1999 – Soulforce staged a direct action at the UMC Church Trial of the Rev. Jimmy Creech who was defrocked for performing same-gender marriages.

2000 – At the General Conference of the United Methodist Church in Cleveland, Ohio, almost 200 Soulforce volunteers were arrested in a nonviolent direct action. Prominent participants included Arun Gandhi, Yolanda King, the Rev. James Lawson, and the Rev. Phil Lawson. Two United Methodist Bishops were among those who volunteered to submit to arrest.

March 2004 – Soulforce conducted a direct action at the UMC Church Trial of the Rev. Karen Dammann, put on trial for being a "self-avowed" lesbian, but found "not guilty."

May 2004 – Soulforce was at the 2004 General Conference. Church legislation was passed supporting civil legislation banning same-gender marriage. More anti-LGBT language was added to the church’s Book of Discipline (book of church laws), especially related to church trials. Attempts to recognize dissenting opinions in the church were rejected. In response, Soulforce led a nonviolent mass disruption of the General Conference during its final days.

December 2004 – Soulforce vigiled at the UMC Church Trial of the Rev. Beth Stroud. Beth was stripped of her clergy credentials by the Trial Court, but has continued to be employed by her local congregation as a lay minister.

June 2007 – President Bush nominated Dr. James W. Holsinger as Surgeon General. Soulforce issued a press release exposing Holsinger’s history of anti-gay bigotry in his official roles as a member of the United Methodist Committee to Study Homosexuality (1988 to 1992) and as President ("Chief Justice") of the United Methodist Judicial Council ("Supreme Court").

More Information:

Press Release 4/23/2008
Black Clergy Allies to Show Support for LGBT Methodists

Press Release 4/11/2008
Soulforce Events Urge Methodists to Open Hearts, Minds, and Doors

Press Release 1/2/2008
Soulforce to Mark 10th Anniversary in 2008 with Direct Action at United Methodist General Convention