Improper Voting Occurred at Methodist Conference That Strengthened Ban on Gay Clergy – News

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It was a momentous vote for the United Methodist Church, as the way forward for the nation’s second-largest Protestant church hung within the stability. In a former soccer stadium in St. Louis final month, church officers and lay leaders from world wide voted to strengthen their ban on same-sex marriage and homosexual clergy, a choice that might now cut up the church.

However not less than 4 ballots had been forged by people who weren’t approved to vote, in line with interviews and a evaluate of the church’s data. The people had been from African delegations whose votes had been important to proscribing the church’s guidelines on homosexuality.

The ultimate 54-vote margin in opposition to homosexual clergy and same-sex marriage exceeds the variety of unauthorized votes found to date. However the voting irregularities raised questions in regards to the course of behind the divisive determination, which devastated progressive members. Some have mentioned leaving the denomination and probably creating a brand new alliance for gay-friendly church buildings.

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Church leaders are actually discussing whether or not new votes must be known as, Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton, who serves on the fee on the overall convention, stated in a cellphone interview.

“The findings which have come out have induced a critical impression on problems with belief and integrity about the entire course of,” he stated.

A question by The New York Occasions final week prompted church officers to rent a consulting agency to look at whether or not individuals who had been ineligible might have obtained credentials to vote on the church’s normal convention.

Church leaders who oversaw the convention stated in a press release that the audit confirmed it was “doable {that a} very restricted variety of ineligible individuals” participated. These folks had been denied credentials by workers on the convention, the officers stated, however had been later in a position to procure them.

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The Occasions discovered further irregularities. For instance, two delegates from South Congo, which is a state within the Democratic Republic of Congo, are listed on the official attendance data. However they by no means traveled to the US for the convention due to visa points, in line with a cellphone interview with one and a message despatched by the opposite to the Rev. Kalaba Chali, an official translator for the convention. As well as, three folks voted as delegates for South Congo however their names are absent from convention attendance logs and delegate election data.

One unauthorized delegate was Philippe Kasap Kachez, whose father is Bishop Kasap Owan, a distinguished opponent of homosexual clergy. Three Methodists from the Congo area recognized him to The Occasions as a voter seated on the ground. Mr. Chali spoke with him in St. Louis and requested why he was current.

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“He stated he didn’t go to a Methodist church in Congo, as a substitute he lives in Brussels,” Mr. Chali stated in a cellphone interview. “He stated, ‘I got here right here as a result of my dad requested me to come back vote in opposition to the lesbians.’”

When contacted on Fb and WhatsApp, Mr. Kasap Kachez declined to remark. Bishop Kasap Owan didn’t reply to questions.

“To study that there have been irregularities within the voting is distressing and of nice concern,” Bishop Kenneth Carter, the president of the Council of Bishops, stated in an interview on Thursday.

When requested what these findings meant for the results of the vote of the overall convention, the Rev. Gary W. Graves, secretary of the convention, stated, “That may be a matter that will nonetheless be beneath evaluate.”

This story will likely be up to date.

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