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300 protest at Methodist conference in Fort Worth

FORT WORTH -- Nearly 300 protesters marched into the Fort Worth Convention Center on Thursday morning in a negotiated disruption of the United Methodist General Conference.

The protest was in reaction to the delegates’ votes Wednesday affirming the denomination’s position against same-sex unions, that homosexual activity is against the Bible, and that ordaining ministers or appointing practicing homosexuals to churches is incompatible with Christian teaching.

The protesters -- some wearing arm bands or buttons with “All means all” or other slogans -- walked down the center aisle in a statement arranged with conference leaders.

Protest leaders and several bishops then went to meet in a private area for conference officials called "holy conferencing." It was not known how long the meeting would be or whether those meeting would issue a statement later today.

Marcher Ed Hoar, 65 and retiree from Delaware, Ohio, said he works for a suicide hotline,

"I discovered what kind of pain we cause gay people," Hoar said. "They’re just regular people trying to lead regular lives. ...There was an opportunity to do the right thing, but the church didn't have the courage to do it."

James Z. Labala, a conference attendee from Liberia, saw the protest march but said he supported the delegates’ decisions Wednesday.

"I go with the church that these teachings are incompatible with the Bible," Labala said.

But he did not disapprove of the march, he said..

"I do think you need to be given the freedom like was done this morning (the protest)," he said.

About 1,000 delegates are in Fort Worth for the United Methodist’s world convention that meets every four years. The 10-day convention ends Friday.