The ordination of homosexuals as ministers is among the topics scheduled for discussion this weekend at the biannual conference for Disciples of Christ members from Southern California, southern Nevada and Hawaii. The conference, which began Thursday at Chapman University, lasts three days.
About 400 representatives from 75 Disciples of Christ churches in the Pacific Southwest region are expected to discuss and possibly vote on the topic during Friday and Saturday morning business sessions.
"It's a volatile issue and there will be a lot of controversy," said John Wolfersberger, acting regional minister of the Disciples of Christ Church in the Pacific Southwest region. "Our policy in the region is while we affirm people of all states of life in the church, we will not knowingly ordain an avowed or practicing homosexual."
The subject of homosexuals in the ministry has come up in part because the United Church of Christ voted last year to accept their ordination as ministers.
The United Church of Christ and the Disciples of Christ, both mainline Protestant denominations, have operated in ecumenical partnership since 1989 and are moving toward mutual recognition of each other's ministers and members.
The group will also take a look at whether interim ministers at Disciples of Christ churches should continue to be allowed to become permanent ministers at the churches they are temporarily servicing.
There are about 116 Disciples of Christ churches in the area covered by the Pacific Southwestern conference, one of the 36 regions that the United States is divided into by the church.
However, the conference is not held only for voting purposes, and about 700 people are expected to attend all or part of the three-day event.
There are dinners, speeches, banquets and discussion groups open to lay persons. The 19 workshops cover a range of issues, from discussions of chemical dependency to prayer.