In the UMC Book of Discipline 2008, Par. 304 discusses the qualifications for ordination. Many petitions came to General Conference concerning Par. 304.3. This paragraph prohibits persons who are self-avowed practicing homosexuals from being candidates for ministry, being ordained and or being appointed to serve in the UMC. Some of the petitions added more detail to the prohibition. Other petitions were offered in attempt to strike the language from the Discipline.
A sub committee of the Faith and Order Committee worked for a day and a half to bring one single petition to the full committee for dicussion. They chose a petition where the language is stronger in excluding people who are gay from being clergy in the UMC.
As I write this, the full committee is about to begin deliberation on this petition. The debate, conducted with parliamentary procedure, has been surrounded by small group discussion and a long time of silent prayer and meditation.
I sit in the "gallery" with about 75 observers. The mood is still and tense.
The work of this committee will reflect whether or not our church practices "open minds, open hearts, open doors."