It’s been a heavy week in The United Methodist Church. From many angles, we are reminded of the work we have to do as Reconciling people. We cannot settle for a narrative that is exclusionary and harmful to any people. There is no place for racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ageism…discrimination of any kind in the church of God.

On Monday, the Council of Bishops released the results of the annual conference votes on the constitutional amendments from the 2016 General Conference. Seriously, church – we did not pass an amendment that recognizes that all genders are of equal value in the eyes of God? We could not agree to eliminate discrimination against women and girls? I spent yesterday trying to come up with words to describe what that says about us and I still have none. As a United Methodist, I am simply embarrassed.

Additionally, in speaking of membership, we did not agree to add “gender, ability, age and marital status” to the list of characteristics that do not bar people from membership in the church. The fact that we have to list characteristics that do not bar one from membership is troubling in the first place.

Last month, we celebrated 50 years since the formation of The United Methodist Church and the dissolution of the segregationist Central Jurisdiction in the US Church. In fact, one of the reasons given for the bishops choosing not to put the multi-branch model forward was because it segregated the church. While I applaud the church and the bishops for those actions, I don’t understand how a church trying to live into non-segregationist values could defeat the two amendments described above.

There isn’t a single rationale I can come up with behind the defeat of these amendments that would reflect the gospel call up on the church to be a light for the world. 

Reconciling Ministries Network calls on United Methodists to seize this opportunity to address thh sexism – and its intersections with anti-LGBTQ and racist underpinnings – that continues to pervade our church on a local and global level. Use this moment to speak out and to proclaim the belovedness of people of ever gender, every age, every ability, every sexuality, every nationality in ever corner of the church. Any minister or congregation led by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus simply cannot justify the denial of membership to a sibling-in-Christ based on their God-given identities.

We are created in diversity for the delight of God and one another. Until the day our denomination appropriately bears witness to the divine worth of every individual, may our lives of faith as Reconciling Communities be a testimony tot he love of God that offers comfort, hope, and a path of justice for all people. 

The work of resisting injustice and oppression will never be complete. May we lean on our faith and one another as we continue to hold the UMC accountable when its actions do not reflect our values as Christians and United Methodists.

Jan Lawrence
Executive Director
Reconciling Ministries Network

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