Case in Point: Bigotry Makes Telling Bedfellows...

Protests Planned as Methodist Advocates of Gay Inclusion Meet

from The Associated Press

Charlotte, N.C. - Conservative groups and the Ku Klux Klan were planning to protest this weekend's meeting of Methodists who want gays welcomed in all aspects of church life.

The meeting, hosted by the Chicago-based Reconciling Ministries Network, started last night at the retreat center for the United Methodist Church at Lake Junaluska.

Officials at the conference center were setting aside separate areas for protesters, counter-protesters and the Klan. The local sheriff's department also planned to set up a command center at the lake.

The meeting has also drawn complaints from fellow United Methodists who don't believe such a meeting should happen at the church-owned conference and retreat center.

About 20 Klan members from Georgia, Texas, North Carolina and elsewhere were expected, said J.J. Harper, Imperial Wizard of the Cordele, Georgia-based American White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. He said they will not wear robes and hoods.

"We don't plan on causing any trouble unless trouble comes to us first," he said in a telephone interview Thursday. "We're just going to be protesting like anybody else who is protesting."

The Rev. Troy Plummer, executive director of Reconciling Ministries, said his group was trying not to be distracted by opponents of its mission.

About 550 people have registered to attend the Reconciling Ministries annual conference. The ministry states its goal as fully opening the United Methodist church to people of "all sexual orientations and gender identities."

Congregants from Nesbitt Chapel United Methodist Church in nearby Fairview recently took out newspaper ads to protest the meeting. Baptists and local residents who both support and oppose the group's work also plan to make their cases.


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