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Delegates to the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, Ore., consider their hopes and dreams for the legislative meeting. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS

Methodists reject alternative format for divisive LGBT discussions

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(RNS) Delegates to the United Methodist Church General Conference shot down a strategy that would have allowed them to discuss contentious legislation in small groups.

The vote on the group discernment process, nicknamed “Rule 44,” stretched over three days and hinted at the tone that will follow at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Ore., where the quadrennial denominational conference is meeting until May 20.

The small-group discernment process had been proposed after delegates to the 2012 General Conference reported instances of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people being bullied and asked for a new way to discuss potentially divisive issues. Had the process been approved, it likely would have been suggested for use at this year’s conference to discuss the inclusion of LGBT people in the church.

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