As a Reconciling congregation, we are disturbed and heartbroken by the recent General Conference decision to strengthen the language in the United Methodist Church’s (UMC) Book of Discipline that condemns LGBTQ+ lay persons and clergy for living naturally as God made them. This declaration is clearly in conflict with our Methodist Social Principles, Wesleyan theology, and the life and teachings of Jesus Christ Himself. Also, the position taken by the General Conference contradicts much of the UMC’s stated positions on human dignity, equality, and the protection of vulnerable peoples.
Until these issues are resolved, we refuse to comply with any decision that stands opposed to basic human dignity and our principles as disciples of Christ: we will continue to fully welcome and incorporate LGBTQ+ people into our faith community and extend to them the rights of Christian worship, marriage, clergy, membership, leadership, and inclusion in the Kingdom of God. We believe that this position is not ours alone, but is supported by Scripture as well as Wesleyan interpretations of these sacred texts.
- We oppose the UMC Book of Discipline ¶161G statement: “The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching”: as it contradicts both the letter and spirit of that section’s language and intent. Further, the idea that this sexual orientation is a “practice” or “condition” has been rejected by the psychological community since 1973, making the inclusion of this language both derogatory and dishonest.
- • We fully support our clergy in extending LGBTQ+ people the rights of any UMC member, specifically the right to join our congregation, worship, and enter into Christian marriage. We also fully support the right of LGBTQ+ people to answer God’s call and enter the ministry. We will not accept any punitive action in regard to these issues.
- • We fully support LGBTQ+ youth and their right to be full members of our congregation. We accept their identity as the way God made them. We recognize that they are a particularly vulnerable part of an already marginalized group, and we see it as our moral duty to support their healthy physical and spiritual growth. We refuse to do them harm by insisting that their natural state is incompatible with Christian teaching.
The GC2019 decision is especially wounding to us in light of our longstanding Methodist values of respect and acceptance. We understand that not everyone currently shares our beliefs and we hope that our continued association with our UMC kindred will help them to understand our passion for this issue. In this spirit of mutual respect we turn to the words of Jesus Christ, who taught that “In everything, treat others as you would want them to treat you, for this fulfills the law and the prophets.” (Matt. 7:12).