To our Friends in the United Methodist Church who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer:
We know where you are because we have stood on that ground in our past. We have walked the paths you have been walking because we have walked them in our past. We know the sting of rejection you may be feeling because we have felt that sting in our past. Please know that we stand by you, beside you, before you and behind you in your quest to be accepted as full members in The United Methodist Church (UMC) and as the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) children of God you were created to be.
It is not an easy struggle and it is not over for you or any faith community, including our own. Even in The Episcopal Church we still have dioceses that will not honor marriage equality or the full inclusion of LGBTQ folks in our church despite even canon law that requires such accommodation. Yet we know that the Holy Spirit is still at work in this world of ours and that the Holy Spirit has ways of infiltrating the human heart and turning us toward what is of true value in this world: right relationship with God and right relationship with each other.
There was a time when I would cringe ever so slightly when the Gospel passage was read where Jesus says: “I come not to bring peace but a sword.” I came to understand that the sword was the Gospel, the Good News, and that it was meant for all. The Gospel was the implement, the sword, that would divide those who would try to exclude from those who wanted to include. It would divide those who understood that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was for all of God’s children, not just for some. I have never found any exceptions or exclusions in the Gospel. Jesus’ own ministry was one of inclusion….regardless of station, situation, circumstance or any other condition except love.
Among the last things Jesus said to the disciples before leaving them was this: “I give you a new commandment: that you love one another as I have loved you.” It seems we have not given that commandment its due. It gets skipped over a lot in our preaching and teaching. We sort of let it slide past us when we read it. Yet it is the heart of the Gospel. It makes it clear that we were created by love for love and that there are no exceptions about who we are to love. Some things are so difficult for us because they are so very simple!
We pray with you for the day when all will truly see open hearts, open minds, open doors in The UMC.. and see that for all of God’s children, including the ones who are LGBTQ. We remain with you in your struggle. Know that prayers ascend on your behalf.
May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you!
Bruce Garner, President