Soulforce, an ecumenical group pushing for greater acceptance ofgays and lesbians within church life, announced May 15 that thegroup has planned a civil disobedience protest during a worship serviceon Sunday, June 25.
The 2.5 million-member Presbyterian Church (USA)--the nation'slargest Presbyterian body--will meet in Long Beach, Calif., for itsGeneral Assembly from June 24 to July 1. Pro-gay groups hope to changethe church's bans on ordaining gays and lesbians and performing same-sexunion ceremonies.
The United Methodist Church ended its General Conference inCleveland on May 12. The church voted not to change bans on gayordination and same-sex ceremonies, and retained a statement calling thepractice of homosexuality "incompatible with Christian teaching."Soulforce led a demonstration that blocked exits to the ClevelandConvention Center, and 191 people were arrested.
The Rev. Mel White, a former ghostwriter for Jerry Falwell and PatRobertson and the leader of Soulforce, said he will train volunteers innonviolent demonstrations and plans to be arrested again.
"Even while they've called us 'sick' and 'sinful,' we've playedtheir organs, led their choirs, taught their Sunday School classes, andgiven our tithes and offerings faithfully," White said in a statement."Those days are over. By making outcasts of sexual and genderminorities, the Presbyterians have broken Christ's heart. We come in hisname and for his sake to help save the soul of the Presbyterian Church(USA)."
After protesters failed to sway delegates to the Methodist meeting,White announced a boycott of Methodist churches that do not welcome gayand lesbian members, and said protesters will picket those churches. TheEpiscopal Church will also tackle the homosexuality question in July,but White has not said whether he plans to protest that meeting.