Justice has been delayed and denied for Joey Heath-Mason and T.C. Morrow – two openly gay and lesbian candidates in the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference. Despite having been approved by their Board of Ordained Ministry – examined and recommended – they were kept from being voted upon by their clergy session after a ruling from the Bishop.
As we set our eyes upon the Called General Conference in February of 2019, it’s essential that we keep the treatment of LGBTQ people at the center of our conversation. Though some are tempted to find a “neutral” location for lingering in the meantime, the weight of the discriminatory policies in our Book of Discipline bears heavily upon the lives of queer people. Any attempt to be neutral falls on the side of power – and in our case – against the thriving of LGBTQ people in The United Methodist Church.
If there is any hope for positive collective transformation at General Conference, it will only come from a foundation rooted deeply in love. And there are a few things we know about love.
Love does not discriminate.
Love is not born from fear or defensiveness or institution-first politics.
Love is not exercised by affirming the call of God upon lives only to deny them the opportunity to exercise it within the church.
T.C. Morrow, one of the two candidates ruled ineligible, states:
“For any who would ask how they can support me, lifting me in prayer is foremost. Then consider whether you are responding as fully as you can to love God and love your neighbor.”
What commandment is the greatest? Jesus has told us, love God and love your neighbor. For too long, we have claimed to be people of love while practicing actions that harm. If we desire to be people of love, it must flow from our actions, not our inaction.
Jan Lawrence, Executive Director of RMN, encouraged the movement:
“In different ways, we are all feeling the deep grief of watching the church betray its own conscience and do real harm to real people – once again. Though we linger in the feelings today, rooted in love for those harmed and for one another, let us also envision where this love will take us tomorrow. We must think boldly, creatively, and with commitment about how we are advancing justice both collectively and in the individual lives of those made targets in the church.”
Our hearts are with the two candidates whose courage and faithfulness illuminate their gifts. May we hold them both in collective prayer, affirmation, and solidarity. Not in word alone, but followed by actions – today, tomorrow, and every day until change brings us to embodying a church where love is our one true foundation.