Summarized by Kent Larsen
Mormonism On Methodist's Agenda
Associated Press 1May00 N1
By Richard N. Ostling: AP Religion Writer
NEW YORK, NEW YORK -- The United Methodist Church, the third largest
church in the United States, has Mormonism on the agenda of its
General Conference, which will be held next week in Cleveland. The
Conference will consider a resolution stating that 'the Mormon
Church's God differs from that of Christian tradition.'
The effect of the proposal is not clear. It may strengthen the
position of those that wish to exclude Mormons from ecumenical and
Christian activities, or it may have little or no effect.
The proposal is just one of 1,900 pieces of legislation that the 992
representatives will consider. Also on the Conferences' agenda is
recognizing homosexual unions, which the Conference, held every four
years, has considered in every Conference since 1972. The United
Methodists, formed in a 1968 merger, have 8.5 million members in
36,170 congregations in the U.S. The Church has another 1.5 million
members outside the U.S.
But some observers predict the homosexuality issue will split the
group, leaving one Methodist group accepting homosexual unions and
the other keeping the current policy.
The Methodists, like the LDS Church, are heavy supporters of the Boy
Scouts of America, and a decision in favor of recognizing homosexual
unions or a Methodist schism could affect their support in the recent
James Dale case, heard last week before the U.S. Supreme Court.
However, with the oral arguments already made, continued support may
not be crucial.
A schism could also give the LDS Church more notoriety, if the split
is fairly even. The LDS Church currently has more than 5 million
members in the United States, and a split could leave the Methodists
in two groups smaller than that.