There are some significant amendments to the Book of Discipline and to the structure of the United Methodist Church. You may check them out here. These were passed at General Conference 2008, but need a passing vote from the Annual Conference members of all Annual Conferences.
While I am VERY excited for the United Methodist Church to acknowledge its global nature, I am very disappointed that we are taking innocuous steps toward accepting homosexuality.
For clarification, one amendment regarding membership in the Book of Discipline comes after a controversy of a pastor denying membership to an openly practicing homosexual. The pastor was unjustly defrocked without pay by his bishop until the Judicial Council voted his actions within UMC pastoral discretion. Unfortunately, the bishops banded together under a concern of episcopal authority and wrote a weak letter in support of the offending bishop's actions.
At stake now, is the very essence of membership. It is about being in a "club" or is it a vow of discipleship and faithful living?
Membership is not a "right." Membership is a declaration of lifestyle and intentionality to discipleship. If homosexuality is a sin, as the Bible clearly indicates and as the UMC has stated, then the act of unrepentant homosexuality is an obstacle to membership...
Just as unrepentant adultery, lying, stealing, lusting, pride, greed, overboard consumption of resources, etc., are wrong and should be a red flag for membership, so too should unrepentant homosexuality.
We can't pick our sins just because out culture says that something is OK. Why have membership if anyone and everyone has a "right" to it? Isn't that just the same as constituent? To be fair, I have noticed that many vibrant and growing churches dismiss "membership" as status all together.
I may have to evaluate if I do another membership class...Why waste the time of people getting up front and saying, "Nothing's changed. I sat in some classes, and now I stand up here taking vows that anyone could take and not mean."
It seems to me that we are taking 1 step forward and 2 steps back as we continue to water down what it means to be disciple of Jesus Christ.