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KKK To Demonstrate At Gay Methodist Retreat

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KKK To Demonstrate At Gay Methodist Retreat

by Tim Whitmire, Associated Press

Posted: September 2, 2005 8:00 am ET

(Charlotte, North Carolina) Conservative groups and the Ku Klux Klan are planning to protest this weekend at a United Methodist Church retreat where a group that wants gays welcomed in all aspects of church life will be meeting.

Officials at the Lake Junaluska 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.

"We've made some plans in case something does happen - basically having local and state people on call," Haywood County Sheriff Tom Alexander said. "We just hope that everybody can do what they need to do and make this a safe event for everybody."

The meeting hosted by the Chicago-based Reconciling Ministries Network is scheduled to start later today and 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 in western North Carolina.

About 20 Klan members from Georgia, Texas, North Carolina and elsewhere were expected, said J.J. Harper, Imperial Wizard of the Cordele, Ga.-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.

"We're here to retreat, to be spiritually renewed," Plummer said Thursday during a break in pre-conference meetings.

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."

Denominational law prohibits "self-avowed practicing homosexuals" from serving in the clergy, a prohibition passed by the Methodist General Conference in 1984.

Some United Methodists argue Plummer's group should not be welcome at Lake Junaluska, headquarters to the church's Southeastern Jurisdiction, because it advocates changing church law.

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.

©365Gay.com 2005

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KKK Protests Pro-Gay Methodist Conference

by The Associated Press

Posted: September 3, 2005 4:00 pm ET

(Charlotte, North Carolina) About a dozen members of the Ku Klux Klan began protesting Saturday outside a meeting of United Methodists who want gays welcomed in all aspects of church life.

The conference, organized by the Chicago-based Reconciling Ministries Network is being held throughout the weekend at a church conference center at Lake Junaluska.

The protesters, dressed in black and wearing black berets, are based in Georgia and came from a handful of Southeastern states. They carried signs reading "Show me where sin is OK," and "God made Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve."

About five counter-protesters from Knoxville, Tenn., who were across the street from the KKK demonstrators, were asked to leave by police because they were not in a designated protest area near a command center run by the Haywood County Sheriff's Department.

Conservatives within the the United Methodist church were also scheduled to demonstrate this weekend.

Inside the center more than 500 people are taking part in the conference.

Denominational law prohibits "self-avowed practicing homosexuals" from serving in the clergy, a prohibition passed by the Methodist General Conference in 1984.

©Associated Press 2005

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