The United Methodist Church's 2004 General Conference will take up the debate over whether to change its stand against homosexual conduct, despite heavy support for existing policy at the last gathering in 2000. The denomination's Board of Church and Society has voted 20-12 to make another attempt to eliminate the church's statement that "we do not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider this practice incompatible with Christian teaching." The board wants this substitute: "Although faithful Christians disagree on the compatibility of homosexual practice with Christian teaching, we affirm that God's grace is available to all." A minority of board members favors the current language and a moratorium on further debate.
The board will also be proposing new actions on bisexual and transgender rights, mental illness, welfare reform, drug abuse, alcohol, campaign finance reform, Native Americans, dioxin, health care, treatment of the dying, world population, and World Trade Organization rules.
With 8.3 million members, the United Methodist Church is America's second-largest Protestant body.