Division over the inclusion of LGBTQ persons in the United Methodist Church has brought it to the breaking point. While seeds of that division date to 1972, the consequences of the 1980 General Conference (GC) signaled a lack of trust that can be described as a broken covenant. Conservatives that year sought to add language to the Book of Discipline that would prohibit gays and lesbians from being ordained, but instead delegates put their trust in the covenant community that examines and recommends candidates for ordination. The appointment of an openly gay pastor just two years later prompted the 1984 GC to ban the ordination of “selfavowed practicing homosexuals.” Several other aspects of the 1980 GC would shape the ongoing debate, including public dissent within the Council of Bishops, the influence of delegates from Africa, and the action of caucus groups. The language of covenant has been used frequently in conversations about sexuality, most often by those resisting change, but United Methodists both for and against full inclusion have expressed a sense of broken trust.

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