Reconciling Ministries Network
123 W. Madison St., Suite 1450
Chicago, IL 60602

For Immediate Release

March 29, 2019

Reconciling Ministries Network Welcomes Rural Kentucky Church as 1,000th Reconciling Church/Community

CHICAGO, IL – A month after the called General Conference 2019 of The United Methodist Church (GC2019), Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) grows to over 1,000 Reconciling Churches/Communities and 40,000 Reconciling United Methodists (RUMs). Since GC2019, over twenty churches and communities and almost 4,000 individuals have joined the Reconciling movement, committing to inclusion for LGBTQ United Methodists and continued efforts toward justice for all people in the life and ministry of The United Methodist Church.

Briensburg United Methodist Church in Benton, KY, became the 1,000th Reconciling Church on Friday, March 29, 2019. “Briensburg UMC hopes to amplify the message that even smaller rural churches like ours do not stand alone in our resolute affirmation that God loves everyone,” says Rev. Bill Lawson, who serves as Briensburg UMC’s pastor. “To the UMC, we point out that God continues to demonstrate the reconciling work of Jesus on the cross by manifesting the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the ministries and relationships of LGBTQ Christians. To all LGBTQ Christians, we absolutely welcome and need your full participation and leadership in our congregations.”

Earlier on Friday, RMN also announced the Reconciling status of Highlands United Methodist Church in Birmingham, AL, a congregation of almost 800 members. “In more recent years, we have come to understand that the welcome for all must intentionally include our LGBTQ sisters and brothers, and we must be bold and diligent in sharing that message,” says Reggie Holder, Director of Growing Ministries at Highlands UMC. “RMN helps us do that.”

Additionally on Friday, RMN welcomed its 1,001st Reconciling Community to the movement: the English Worship Service of Oak Haven UMC in Irving, TX. Oak Haven describes itself as neither a progressive or liberal church, but it “believes that extending inclusive love and hospitality to others is a vital part of orthodox Christianity,” according to Oak Haven UMC’s pastor. Like many other communities, the English Worship Service voiced not only affirmation of LGBTQ United Methodists but also a rejection of the Traditionalist Plan, which The UMC adopted at GC2019. “I had always believed the Methodist Church as a whole, and Oak Haven UMC in particular, to be inclusive,” says Patricia Owen, a lay leader of Oak Haven UMC. “I can think of no better way to confirm rejection of the Traditional Plan and to affirm our belief that the love of God is equal for every person than to become a Reconciling Community.”

The influx of Reconciling Churches/Communities and Reconciling United Methodists demonstrates a post-GC2019 climate of United Methodists deeply dissatisfied with the conference’s outcome and eager to build up a grassroots movement for LGBTQ justice and inclusion, heart by heart, church by church. Says Reggie Holder, “We are working with other congregations in Birmingham and beyond to develop a faithful response to say ‘enough’ to the harmful language of the Book of Discipline and Church policies that do not allow full participation in the life of the United Methodist Church by our LGBTQ members.”

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