Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) today launched a campaign targeting the General Conference of The United Methodist Church, which meets in May 2016 to consider legislation calling for recognition of LGBTQ clergy and same-sex marriage.
RMN has created the campaign website rmnetwork.org/itstime to enable supporters and allies to reach their delegates directly by sharing their stories and urging the General Conference to reverse The UMC’s discriminatory treatment of its LGBTQ ministers and congregants.
“We embark on this campaign because ‘it’s time’ for The United Methodist Church – the third largest Christian denomination in the United States – to fully welcome and celebrate its LGBTQ members and ministers,” said RMN Executive Director Matt Berryman. “Our families, friends and neighbors are hurt every day by the exclusion they experience from the church that they love. It’s time for this General Conference to turn the corner and open its doors to everyone who calls The UMC home.”
RMN is also partnering with the documentary filmmakers behind “An Act of Love,” hosting more than 50 screenings across the country at many of the 700 communities and churches that make up the Reconciling Ministries Network. “An Act of Love,” which premiered at several film festivals, tells the story of Rev. Frank Schaefer’s religious trials for officiating his son’s same-sex marriage. RMN will kick off the multi-city, multi-state screenings and discussions in Evanston, Ill. right outside Chicago at First United Methodist Church on Dec. 4; in Dallas at Northaven United Methodist Church on Dec. 8; and in Washington D.C. at Landmark’s E Street Cinema through Foundry United Methodist Church on Dec. 17. Additional dates and locations, as well as information about how to host screenings, are listed here.
“This General Conference gives us an opportunity not just to be heard but to make change,” said Rev. Schaefer who is now serving as pastor of the Isla Vista Student Ministry in Isla Vista, California. “This campaign is smart and strategic because it gives folks a vehicle to talk directly to their delegates. It’s time for the silent many to be heard and for The United Methodist Church to welcome everyone.”
The General Conference, which convenes every four years, is the policy-making body of The UMC composed of approximately 500 clergy and 500 lay delegates elected by their regional annual conferences around the world. In October, RMN filed four petitions and two resolutions that would ban discrimination towards LGBTQ clergy and lay members employed in The UMC, allow clergy to perform same-sex marriages, and reduce harm toward LGTBQ children and youth—highlighting specific challenges faced by LGBTQ young people including family rejection, risk of homelessness, bullying and suicide. The General Conference will convene in Portland, Ore. from May 10 –20, 2016.
For more information about RMN’s work, visit rmnetwork.org.