The following is from the April 23, 2008, edition of The Dallas Morning News. William Lawrence, dean of SMU's Perkins School of Theology, provided expert commentary for this story.

United Methodist Church stresses unity for General Conference in Fort Worth

The Dallas Morning News

For more than 30 years, the United Methodist Church has been trying to show that a denomination divided against itself on homosexuality can still stand.

The latest test begins today in Fort Worth.

Nearly 1,000 lay and clergy delegates mainly from the U.S., but with a strong African contingent will gather at the Convention Center for a General Conference, a term that covers the denomination's top legislative body and the body's quadrennial meeting.

This epic exercise in church democracy lasts nine days, during which about 1,600 proposed resolutions and changes to church law and policy everything from revising the denomination's hymnal to boycotting companies with questionable labor practices will at least get looked at by a committee. . .

"Methodism really does represent the broad middle," said William Lawrence, dean of Southern Methodist University's Perkins School of Theology. "We have the same problems in the UMC that the U.S. social and cultural fabric have."

Read the full story.

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