Reconciling Ministries Network joins United Methodist bishops in Africa in their strong denunciation of the “manipulation of weaker nations by world powers” as expressed in their pastoral letter to the whole church.  The legacy of colonialism and church’s historic participation in such structures of oppression creates the need for both ongoing confession and continued repentance on the part of the western church. Nevertheless, we are gravely concerned to discover a similar manipulation of the weak embedded in their letter regarding the inclusion, safety, and well-being of LGBTQ persons.

It is imperative that we speak unequivocally to the homophobia and violence found within the body of the pastoral letter. Unfortunately, the vociferous and well-placed condemnation of global inequality and the historic abuses of power is significantly weakened of its prophetic authority because the bishops turn immediately from condemning abuse of power to upholding it. The letter fails to acknowledge the causal relationship existing between the plight of refugees, LGBTQ persons around the world, and systemic oppression; homophobia and transphobia, not unlike economic imperialism and colonialism, exist for the manipulation of the weak by the powerful. And it is no surprise that scripture continues to be used to justify the oppression of LGBTQ people; it is part of a long tradition of using the Bible to control and oppress vulnerable populations—a tradition in desperate need of retirement.

Reconciling Ministries Network rejects ecclesial teaching, policy, or leadership that refuses to fully embrace Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer persons as living members of the body of Christ. We will not be silent about the presence of LGBTQ persons, in African communities and United Methodist Churches everywhere, who are forced under pain of death to hide who they are and who they love.  We will not hide our anger and grief as The UMC continues to collude with anti-Christian forces that seek to eliminate the diversity of God’s good creation—gloriously revealed in the faces of LGBTQ persons. RMN will continue to “draw the attention of our denomination to the stark realities of needless suffering and pain in our world as a result of global terrorism, unjust political systems,” and the abiding religious oppression experienced by LGBTQ refugees everywhere who are told that they are “incompatible with Christian teaching” and cut-away from the body.

As we move toward General Conference, we pray God’s mercy on the whole church. We pray that Holy Wisdom would flow from above that United Methodists around the world might work together for “God’s reign of peace, justice, and freedom for all“—that terrorism might cease, that the queer might be welcome, that the refugee might find home.

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Matt Berryman

Matt Berryman serves Reconciling Ministries Network as executive director. Prior to joining the staff of RMN, Matt spent three years in law school at the Florida Coastal School during which time he worked for churches, law firms, and LexisNexis as a legal editor.From 2002-2009, Matt served United Methodist congregations in the Jacksonville area of the Florida Conference.In addition to serving churches in the United Kingdom, he has led training events and workshops for The United Methodist Church, The Fund for Theological Education, Emory University, and the Fellowship of United Methodists for Music and Worship Arts.He received a B.A. from the University of South Carolina and a M.Div. from Emory University. Although he loves the heat and sunshine of Florida, he anticipates growing to love the charm of cold weather living in Illinois and the perfection of the snowflake!Matt loves an outdoor concert, a good idea, and his 14 year old son, Aidan.
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