United Methodists Vote: No Same-Sex Weddings, No Gay Clergy

Sunday , 12, May 2019 Comments Off on United Methodists Vote: No Same-Sex Weddings, No Gay Clergy

Top leaders and representatives of United Methodist Churches around the world are meeting in St. Louis this week to put to rest a debate that has been occupying much time and resources and has . Preliminary voting in the Legislative Committee today indicates the denomination will adopt the Traditional Plan and continue its official, conservative stance toward homosexuality.

The One Church Plan Failed to Get the Votes It Needed

With a vote of 461 delegates in favor and 359 delegates against, the Traditional Plan will move on to a final vote tomorrow. However, the One Church Plan failed to pass the Legislative Committee after delegates voted 386 for and 436 against.

The Traditional Plan is favored by those in the church who wish to maintain a traditional view of marriage as being between one man and one woman. It also tightens restrictions on . Others that leaned toward allowing the church to perform same-sex weddings and ordaining openly homosexual clergy were in favor of the One Church Plan, which would allow individual churches to decide where they land on the issue of homosexual marriage and clergy.

Last year, the Council of Bishops recommended the denomination adopt the One Church Plan after it reviewed developed by the UMC’s Committee on a Way Forward.

The global nature of the UMC has made the decision facing the denomination complicated. While listening to arguments for and against the One Church Plan, a delegate from South Congo stated the plan would “burn down the church in Africa.” Another delegate from northwest Russia articulated the plan would derail United Methodist missions in Eurasia.

Others, like delegate Byron Thomas, see the debate over homosexuality as similar in some ways to the struggle the denomination had with welcoming African Americans. “Why did black people stay in the Methodist Church? Because if the church could get it right, the world could get it right. The One Church Plan allows us to give witness to the world that we are a church who can struggle but stay together,” Thomas said.

As Pastor Adam Hamilton points out, the U.S. majority of the United Methodist Church is a little more progressive than their international peers.

#GC2019 (cont.) The One Church Plan attempted to make space for everyone. The Traditional Plan seeks to encourage progressives and centrists who disagree with conservatives on marriage to leave the denomination. 60+ percent of US delegates disagree with this plan. (cont.)

What Is the Traditional Plan?

The Traditional Plan calls for retaining the church ban on ordination of “self-avowed practicing homosexuals,” as well as the prohibitions on clergy officiating same-sex weddings or churches hosting them. It would retain the church’s official position that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.

In addition, the Traditional Plan would call for greater enforcement of those restrictions including pushing out congregations and conferences into their own Methodist affiliations outside of the UMC if they won’t pledge to abide by church rules on homosexuality.

What Happens Now?

Tomorrow, the delegates are expected to participate in a final vote to either approve or reject the Traditional Plan. Since the One Church Plan did not make it out of committee, there is only a slim chance it could be brought forward for a vote again. Delegates will also be voting on petitions concerning churches that wish to leave the denomination.

The General Conference meets every four years to vote on issues concerning UMC churches across the globe. The conference is composed of almost 1,000 delegates that are elected by annual conferences to attend the General Conference. Half the delegates are lay members of UMC churches and half are clergy. It was decided at the last General Conference, in 2016, that a special session would be necessary in 2019 to settle the issue that has been .

Some churches left the denomination before this special session, however. of Christ United in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, believes the elongated debate is evidence that the devil “has actually derailed a denomination.”

Meet the Woman Who Volunteers as a ‘Stand-In’ Mom at Same-Sex Weddings: It’s a ‘Complete Joy’

Saturday , 11, May 2019 Comments Off on Meet the Woman Who Volunteers as a ‘Stand-In’ Mom at Same-Sex Weddings: It’s a ‘Complete Joy’

As an officiant of same-sex weddings, Sara Cunningham has been to many ceremonies in which couples’ parents refused to attend. So, the 55-year-old mom took matters into her own hands.

In July, Cunningham, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, declared on Facebook that she’d be more than happy to stand in for the biological mothers of couples who did not want to go to their children’s wedding.

“PSA. If you need a mom to attend your same sex wedding because your biological mom won’t,” she wrote. “Call me. I’m there. I’ll be your biggest fan. I’ll even bring the bubbles.”

Cunningham says she received an overwhelming response from people looking for stand-in parents to attend their weddings and graduations. Mothers and fathers from across the country even weighed in, offering to go to the ceremonies to support the couples.

“I posted it out of frustration. So often I heard about parents who were not acknowledging these relationships or not attending the wedding. I made that post, not having any idea that it would go viral. But what happened is that, from all over the world, I heard from people … I got some invitations.”

One of those invitations was to Tabatha Cash and Marlee Castillo’s wedding. Cunningham initially planned to officiate the wedding but, after Cunningham shared the post, Cash asked Cunningham if she’d represent her mother at the Nov. 3 wedding.

So that’s what Cunningham did.

“My favorite part was seeing Marlee and Tabatha go through this process. They made history that day in their lives. What a beautiful thing to be a part of,” Cunningham tells PEOPLE.

“ is so beautiful, vibrant, independent, in a relationship that is a healthy relationship. It was bittersweet because I know she didn’t have a mom there. No matter how much she knew she was doing the right thing for herself, there’s still a part of her that’s missing, and that’s her mom.”

Still, there were smiles and tears of joy at the wedding, Cunningham says. And her efforts even caught the attention of actress Jamie Lee Curtis, who sent her flowers that Cunningham gave to Cash and Castillo.

The mom of two is set to serve as a “stand-in” mom at three weddings next year. But Cunningham says other mothers have already volunteered at three weddings as a result of the post. Cunningham’s good deed comes about two years after she founded Free Mom Hugs, a non-profit organization which provides support and educational services to parents with LGBTQI community.

Although she’s established herself as an ally of the LGBTQI community, Cunningham says that hasn’t always been the case. She says she and her family struggled for years to come to terms with their son’s identity as a gay man. It was through that journey that she learned to accept him and overcome her own biases, she says.

Now, she’s committed to helping other parents on that same journey. In 2014, she published her memoir , which chronicles her relationship with her son and the LGBTQI community. She even launched a website for parents like her. She also works to end conversion therapy in the state.

Along with her efforts, Cunningham says volunteering at weddings is only a necessary part of supporting the LGBTQI community.

I feel “complete joy,” she tells PEOPLE of attending the ceremonies.

“I experience God and humanity to a much greater degree than I ever thought possible,” she says. “It is my joy.”

Princess Eugenie: ‘I wanted my wedding dress to show my scar’

Friday , 10, May 2019 Comments Off on Princess Eugenie: ‘I wanted my wedding dress to show my scar’
Princess Eugenie shown in her wedding dress from the backImage copyrightPA

For many brides what to wear on their big day is one of the most important decisions they’ll make.

Ivory or white? A-line or mermaid? Long or short? Fitted or puffy?

But for Princess Eugenie there was an extra factor at play.

The Queen’s granddaughter had major surgery on her back to treat a curvature of the spine at the age of 12.

Sixteen years on, and the princess chose to wear a wedding dress that showed her scar, saying she hoped it would honour those who had helped her and inspire others with the condition of scoliosis.

Image copyrightEPA
Image caption The dress was designed by British-based Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos

‘I think you can change the way beauty is’

Ahead of the wedding, the princess spoke of the importance of showing “people your scars”.

And earlier this year she revealed for the first time her own X-rays from when she was treated for scoliosis as a child.

End of Instagram post by princesseugenie

“I had an operation when I was 12 on my back, and you’ll see on Friday [at the wedding], but it’s a lovely way to honour the people who looked after me and a way of standing up for young people who also go through this,” she told ITV’s This Morning.

“I think you can change the way beauty is, and you can show people your scars and I think it’s really special to stand up for that.”

What is scoliosis and why does it mostly affect young girls?

It most often starts in children aged 10 to 15 but there is often no known cause. Sometimes it is caused by the bones not forming properly in the womb or other medical conditions, including cerebral palsy.

Three to four children in 1,000 need treatment from a specialist.

The Scoliosis Association UK says about five out of six people with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis are female – but it is not known why.

In Princess Eugenie’s case, it required corrective surgery and she had the operation at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital.

The princess, now 28, has previously spoken of how she felt in the weeks before her surgery, saying it was “a scary prospect for a 12-year-old; I can still vividly remember how nervous I felt”.

“During my operation, which took eight hours, my surgeons inserted eight-inch titanium rods into each side of my spine and one-and-a-half inch screws at the top of my neck. After three days in intensive care, I spent a week on a ward and six days in a wheelchair, but I was walking again after that,” she says in her story on the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital’s website.

‘I thought I’d be in a wheelchair by 30’

Trainee teacher Camilla Seckin also had surgery for the condition at the same hospital.

“I was really terrified and really in denial about having the surgery, but I knew it was something that I had to get done.

“At this point my back was at a 72-degree curvature and the prognosis was that I’d be in a wheel chair by the age of 30.

“I felt very insecure about my appearance but I feel confident now and I’m not ashamed of having the condition.”

Camilla encourages sufferers to speak up “as it can be quite lonely if you don’t”.

“Building a network with people who have had the surgery has really helped me. I can still do things despite my condition.”

‘Eugenie can inspire others who are affected’

Image copyrightRex/Shutterstock

Jan Lehovsky, a spinal surgeon who was part of the team who operated on the princess, said: “Most of the patients affected by scoliosis are young girls and she’s a real role model for them.

“She’s someone who can inspire them, which is so important for the young ladies coming through the surgery.”

Do you have a large scar that you are comfortable for others to see? Tell us your story by emailing .

Supreme Court sides with Colorado baker who refused to make wedding cake for same-sex couple

Sunday , 5, May 2019 Comments Off on Supreme Court sides with Colorado baker who refused to make wedding cake for same-sex couple

The Supreme Court ruled Monday in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, in one of the most closely watched cases of the term. 

In a 7-2 decision, the justices set aside a Colorado court ruling against the baker — while stopping short of deciding the broader issue of whether a business can refuse to serve gay and lesbian people. 

The narrow ruling focused on what the court described as anti-religious bias on the Colorado Civil Rights Commission when it ruled against baker Jack Phillips.

“The Commission’s hostility was inconsistent with the First Amendment’s guarantee that our laws be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in his majority opinion. 

At issue was a July 2012 encounter.At the time, Charlie Craig and David Mullins of Denver visited Masterpiece Cakeshop to buy a custom-made wedding cake. Phillips refused his services when told it was for a same-sex couple. The state civil rights commission sanctioned Phillips after a formal complaint from the gay couple.

Mullins has described their case as symbolizing “the rights of gay people to receive equal service in business … about basic access to public life.” 

But the Trump administration backed Phillips, who was represented in court by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian nonprofit. He had lost at every step in the legal appeals process, bringing the case down to the Supreme Court’s decision Monday. 

Phillips has said he lost business and had to let employees go because of the controversy.

And he has maintained that it’s his choice: “It’s not about turning away these customers, it’s about doing a cake for an event — a religious sacred event — that conflicts with my conscience,” he said last year.

The court in December specifically examined whether applying Colorado’s public accommodations law to compel the local baker to create commercial “expression” violated his constitutionally protected Christian beliefs about marriage.

By wading again into the culture wars, the justices had to confront recent decisions on both gay rights and religious liberty: a 2015 landmark opinion legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide and a separate 2014 decision affirming the right of some companies to act on their owner’s faith by refusing to provide contraception to its workers.

The Trump administration agreed with Phillips’ legal claims to a large extent. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in October issued broad guidance to executive branch agencies, reiterating the government should respect religious freedom, which in the Justice Department’s eyes extends to people, businesses and organizations.

But civil rights groups were concerned the conservative majority on the court may be ready to peel back protections for groups with a history of enduring discrimination – and predicted that giving businesses the right to refuse service to certain customers would undermine non-discrimination laws and hurt minorities.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

8 Bollywood Actresses Who Made Us Believe That Age Is No Bar For Marriage

Saturday , 4, May 2019 Comments Off on 8 Bollywood Actresses Who Made Us Believe That Age Is No Bar For Marriage

8 Bollywood Actresses Who Made Us Believe That Age Is No Bar For Marriage

India is sure progressing and so are we. But one thing that will remain a bone of contention is a woman’s marriageable age. Because, despite breathing in the 21st century, the most criminal thing an Indian woman in her late 20s or 30s and single can declare to her folks is – “I have no idea when I want to get married!” 

Try saying this once and you will hear all sorts of ridiculous as well as lame things like, ‘having babies will be a problem’, ‘people will think you can’t adjust’ or even worse, ‘society will think you are a divorcee or something’.  

This, by far has all the ingredients to become the most alarming thing for your parents as well as relatives (whom you barely meet once in a blue moon) to worry about. But the point is who decides a woman’s ideal age of getting married or who decides how late is okay? Well, neither do women have an answer to this nor their parents.  

If you are touching 30 or have already crossed 30, and still waiting for your Mr Right or busy shaping your career (while hell is almost breaking loose at home), here are 6 charming Bollywood ladies who broke every bit of stereotype and got married, ‘late’. We mean the ‘late age’ set by the society!

#1. Suhasini Mulay found love at 60

Suhasini Mulay

She is one actress who is equally famous in the Indian tele world, Bollywood as well as Marathi film fraternity. Though she is always known for playing strong characters, but one thing that got her all the possible attention is, when she got married at the age of 60. She tied the knot to Atul Gurtu, a doctor on January 16, 2011. While Suhasini has never been married before but for Atul, this was his second marriage. He lost his first wife to cancer. Suhasini met her future husband on Facebook.

Suhasini Mulay

Yes, people did judge her (including the panditji) but, she chose to stick to her decision of marrying Atul. She fondly recalls this incident from her wedding in an interview with Brunch: 

When we told the pandit that we were the “to-be-married bride and groom”, he was stunned and stammered, ‘Ji, aap dono? Very good, very good’. We cracked up laughing? We got a similar reaction at the court too. But who cared… We were happy!

#2. Farah Khan said ‘qubool hai’ when she was 39

Farah Khan Shirish Kunder

Image Courtesy: Facebook 

This extremely witty director, choreographer and producer made a few heads turn when she got married to editor-turned-director, Shirish Kunder, who is also 8 years her junior. The couple tied the knot on December 9, 2004, and became proud parents to two beautiful daughters and a little prince in 2008.  

Farah Khan Shirish Kunder / Facebook

Image Courtesy: Facebook 

The immediate thing everyone associates with late marriages is age gap (if any) and trouble having babies. But Farah brilliantly breaks both the myths here. It’s been 11 and half years, and Farah and Shirish just make us believe that there’s no ‘right’ age of getting married. And looking at them, we agree that there’s nothing like marrying late, what’s important is what you do to stay happily ever after.

#3. Urmila Matondkar said ‘I do’ at the age of 42

Urmila Matondkar Wedding

Out of all the people, we have mentioned till now, Urmila Matondkar stands out for a lot of reasons. Firstly, she was not in news for anything in particular. Neither was she seeing someone nor was she intending to do any more movies. But as they say, good things happen when you least expect them. And one fine morning, everyone woke up to this sweet yet astounding discovery that Urmila Matondkar gets married in a private ceremony at the age of 42. Mir Mohsin Akhtar, her husband who is a model by profession is believed to be younger to this Rangeela girl. With Urmila, we can totally say that you are never too old for love. And looking at her wedding pictures, we sure can say that she looks like the happiest bride. 

#4. Preity Zinta walked down the aisle with Gene Goodenough when she was 41 

Preity Zinta Wedding

When Preity was in a steady relationship with Ness Wadia, we all thought they will eventually get married. But then, the couple fell apart and marriage didn’t happen. But Bollywood’s bubbly ‘Liril’ girl found love in Gene Goodenough and the couple got married on February 29, 2016 in Los Angeles. Looking at her reception photographs, we might toil with the idea of a late marriage if this is how confident and happy a bride can be of her choice! What we can learn from this dimpled beauty is even if you have been through a failed relationship; never lose faith in the institution of marriage. And, also at the same time, do not rush into another hasty relationship, take your time, take the plunge only when you feel ready. 

#5. Lisa Ray married at 40 

Lisa Ray And Husband

Lisa Ray who impressed everyone in Bollywood with her fabulous acting in the movie Kasoor, walked down the aisle with ex-management consultant Jason Dehni when she was 40. Lisa mentioned how happy she was that she didn’t get married at 20.

Lisa Ray and Husband

In an interview, she said:

In your 20s, you want someone who’ll do everything for you; you want that person to solve all your problems, which I don’t think should be expected. 

And looking at her, we totally believe it was a wise thing on her part to wait for some time, mature a bit before deciding to share her life with someone. And we guess it works that way.

#6. Rani Mukerji got married when she was 36

Rani Mukerji

Everyone knew Rani was dating Aditya Chopra, but neither Rani nor Aditya ever acknowledged it openly. But this overtly written-about couple surprised everyone with a hush-hush wedding on April 21, 2014, in Italy. The couple even welcomed their first daughter in December 2015. Looking at them, all we can say is, when you are sure about something, the age factor should not come into the picture. You should take the next steps whenever you both feel comfortable.  

#7. The most beautiful woman, Aishwarya Rai made it official with Abhishek Bachchan when she was 34

Aishwarya Rai Abhishek Bachchan Wedding

While everyone was busy speculating about this light-eyed beauty’s personal life, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan announced her wedding to Junior Bachchan in 2007. Despite the barely 3 year age difference and disparity in their respective career growth, their marriage is one of the strongest in Bollywood.

Aishwarya Rai Abhishek Bachchan

In fact, when the stunning couple was invited to the Oprah Winfrey Show in September 2009, Oprah quipped that Aishwarya and Abhishek were perhaps more powerful than Hollywood’s Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. And, now with the little princess Aaradhya’s arrival, this family looks gorgeously complete. 

#8. And last but not the least, Neena Gupta found love at the age of 42

Neena Gupta And Vivek Mishra

After having twists and turn in her love life, Neena Gupta is an inspiration for every woman with a liberal mind. After her short-lived affair with Alok Nath, after getting engaged to Shaarangdev to get married, things didn’t work and Shaarangdev called off their wedding. Later, she was blessed with a daughter, Masaba Gupta after being in a relationship with West Indian Caption Richard. After her daughter grew up, Neena started feeling lonely and gave a thought again about marrying.

Neena Gupta and Vivek Mishra

It was then in 2002 when 43-year-old Neena met a Delhi-based Chartered Accountant, Vivek Mishra. The two met on a flight and clicked instantly. While Vivek was also separated from his wife, the two were in a relationship for over 6 years before they tied the knot. In July 2008, the duo left for the US to attend one of Vivek’s relatives wedding and he proposed to her in the US and instantly, married then and there. He already planned everything on his own in the states and just needed a ‘yes’ from his lady-love. 

Most of these actresses have had their share of relationships, but none of them ever felt or gave into the pressure of getting married. And, looking at them, we are assured that age has got nothing to do with a happy married life. 

You Will Fall In Love With Mishkat Varma After Seeing Him Dance On His Sisters Wedding

Wednesday , 1, May 2019 Comments Off on You Will Fall In Love With Mishkat Varma After Seeing Him Dance On His Sisters Wedding

Our very own Mihiku aka Mihika Varma, the Yeh Hai Mohabbatein fame, surprised us all when she got married in a secret ceremony with an NRI, US-based