TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Delegates to the General Conference of the United Methodist Church that started Wednesday in Tampa, Fla., will consider again whether to change the denomination's position on homosexuality.
The church's public policy arm will ask the nearly 1,000 delegates to remove two statements from the denomination's Social Principles that declare sex should only be between a husband and wife and that "homosexuality is incompatible with church teaching."
The General Conference, which meets every four years, also may consider lifting bans on gay clergy and on performing same-sex weddings or civil unions in United Methodist churches.
Mark Tooley is president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, which opposes changing the Principles. He believes the proposed changes could be rejected -- as they have at previous conferences -- because the church includes a growing number of Africans who support traditional doctrines on marriage and sexuality.
Others who support the changes say this year's conversation is much more substantive and diverse than in previous years.
Ann Craig is a New York United Methodist and media coordinator for the Love Your Neighbor coalition, which includes several racially diverse groups.
"Whether we change our policies this time or the next time, they are going to change," she said. "Understanding and acceptance is growing across the world and across the church."