It’ll be Feb. 23-26 in St. Louis.
As far as I know, the Star-Telegram doesn’t have a religion writer per se. But the Fort Worth paper has done some excellent work on the Godbeat in recent times, including a must-read investigation on sex crimes in independent fundamental Baptist churches late last year. That project was produced by investigative reporter Sarah Smith, who left the Star-Telegram soon thereafter to join the Houston Chronicle.
The in-depth story on the United Methodist Church was written by Hanaa’ Tameez, who covers diversity for the Star-Telegram.
Tameez open her piece with an anecdote from a Methodist congregation grappling at the local level with the questions facing the entire denomination:
COLLEYVILLE — On a Tuesday in January, pastor Katie Lewis was surprised to have even 26 members of the United Methodist Church of Colleyville attend her study group on human sexuality and same-sex marriage.
In a group of mostly middle-aged white congregants, opinions ranged widely. One man said he felt pressure to accept LGBTQ clergy and same-sex marriage from “more liberal” members from the East and West Coasts. Others quickly disputed that idea, saying the issue is a concern in Colleyville as well.
“Whether you know it or not, someone in your life is struggling to be accepted for who they are,” one woman told the group.
Lewis said she felt the conversation was necessary ahead of the United Methodist General Conference this month in St. Louis. The conference meets every four years, but a special session was called to vote on a plan regarding same-sex marriage and the acceptance of LGBTQ clergy in the church.
The United Methodist Church faces the possibility of a schism because of the vote. It’s inevitable that people will leave the church because of how polarizing the issue is, according to congregants, clergy and experts. It’s also possible entire congregations could leave the denomination.