Open Letter to General Conference Delegates
from Reconciling United Methodists in the Western Jurisdiction
March 15, 2016
As fellow United Methodists, we want to thank you for volunteering your time and resources to be a delegate at General Conference 2016.
We know you will face many weighty issues in Portland, but one is of particular importance to us – and that is the full inclusion of all our fellow congregants and ministers in The United Methodist Church (UMC), including those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA).
We do share a basic belief as faithful United Methodists: We believe in God’s love for the vulnerable and God’s call for the church to welcome and respect all who come through our doors. We are all deeply committed to the flourishing of The UMC. We also share in one Baptism, and have made the same vows to love and care for all God’s children.
As Reconciling people of faith, however, we believe that proclaiming “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors” demands that we must stop being closed off to so many, and make those who stay second-class members of our fellowship. If we are to preach and practice the same Gospel of love, the harm and discrimination we inflict upon LGBTQIA persons and their loved ones must end. We believe that it is time for us as a denomination to fulfill our sacred vows made at the Baptism of every LGBTQIA Christian.
The doctrine of grace is foundational to our faith. We have a long history of extending that grace to those who are suffering as well as those who disagree with us. We fear that our aspiration – and our reputation – as people of grace is eroding as we continue to fight over who will be included in our church and how.
These last few years have laid bare the suffering: the trials of Rev. Frank Schaefer for officiating his son’s same-sex wedding; LGBTQIA candidates for ministry rejected from their calling; and growing numbers of clergy and congregations wary of telling fellow members that their marriages cannot be celebrated. This spiritual rejection is inherently connected to other acts of bullying, physical harm, and torture of LGBTQIA persons in society. The inequality has taken its toll in the deaths of young LGBTQIA persons by their own hands, saying that the church they love has rejected them.
These actions and others do not speak to our foundation of love and grace. And at the same time, The UMC’s resistance to change increasingly offends young people who overwhelmingly support same-sex marriage and the equal treatment of LGBTQIA people.
If we hope to move forward with the mission of United Methodists for the “transformation of the world,” we must prioritize the love and grace that will allow for all God’s people to find their place in our church – not as second-class members, but full participants and beneficiaries of the life and ministry of The UMC.
We urge you to support any efforts at General Conference 2016 that would extend a welcome embrace to our LGBTQIA congregants and ministers in The United Methodist Church.
Thank you. We will keep you and all delegates in our prayers.
With love and grace,
Reconciling United Methodists in the Western Jurisdiction
SIGN THE WESTERN JURISDICTION’S OPEN LETTER TO UMC GENERAL CONFERENCE DELEGATES