Dear United Methodist Church,

Our nation’s violence – the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, those of the Dallas Police force who were in community with the peaceful #BlackLivesMatter protest, those who were at the Pulse Club in Orlando – leads us to address you again as most vulnerable among us fear for their very lives.

The United Methodist LGBTQI clergy list includes people of color; mindful of the solidarity we experience as LGBTQI clergy, we call on our church to see that the “powers and principalities” of our time are revealed in systemic, institutional injustice.

Lives are at stake.

In the former account many of us made, O Church, of all that you have done for us in baptizing, nurturing, teaching, confirming, and calling us into leadership in our common life, we were about to enter the 10 day discernment of God’s leading for The United Methodist Church known as General Conference. We, your Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer/Questioning, and Intersex (LGBTQI) religious leaders–local pastors, deacons, elders, and candidates for ministry–reminded you of our covenant with you.

And, O Church, you silenced us. You silenced our welcome of LGBTQI persons by name in the opening Worship in Portland; you silenced the naming of LGBTQI persons; you disregarded our delegates’ questions and requests.
O Church, you walked by us as our taped mouths gave witness to the ways in which you silenced us. You walked by us as we stood and lay on the Conference floor tied with cord: bound not by the hymn of the church, but by an outdated and inconsistent Book of Discipline. You turned away when our #BlackLivesMatter march named Black LGBTQIA people.

O Church, you have cried for “unity” on our backs.

We have served faithfully in the connection while harm has continued – in the pursuit of complaints, “just resolutions” in an unjust system, trials, and suggestions to “therefore, go (away).”

We have served faithfully in the connection while harm has continued – in the pursuit of complaints, “just resolutions” in an unjust institution, trials, suggestions to “therefore, go.”

We will not go.
We will not be silent.

God has called us to serve as your pastors and leaders. “Coming out” in May in advance of General Conference has liberated us, and has made some of us more vulnerable. We speak and serve with integrity as we name the fullness of who we are. The risk we took in signing a #calledout letter is one taken in love in the pursuit of truth, for Jesus says “you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).

In our own freedom to be as God created us, we hunger for the freedom of our beloved and broken Church. We believe that “making disciples for the transformation of the world” is not possible when our United Methodist witness is characterized by shame, false unity, and the harmful bent to penalize those whose discipleship does not meet an unjust book of rules.

A Kairos moment has come to us: three of our own LGBTQI clergy have submitted themselves to a movement that has asked for them to serve as Bishops in our Church. Rev. David Meredith, Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto, and Rev. Frank Wulf are Episcopal candidates we claim with the fierce belief that the path to our Church’s future must have the voices of LGBTQI persons at the table of the Council of Bishops.

As we left Portland with the Council of Bishops’ proposal for a special commission to meet in the coming months, we saw the glimpse of hope on the horizon that our Church could find its way to a new understand of itself as witness for God’s love in a hurting world.

As we have seen Annual Conferences commit to non-conformity, we see the glimpse of hope on the horizon that the Spirit is leading our Church to a new day as the Beloved Community God calls us to be.

As we imagine a future with hope, we endorse these queer candidates for the Episcopacy, grounded in knowing that their presence is incarnational for our Church: real people will sit at the table where, when “human sexuality” is being discussed, there will be no doubt that we are not “an issue” or an abstraction.

We are not leaving, O Church, for you belong with us and we belong with you.

We remain committed to the connectional polity, distinctive Wesleyan spirituality, and the theology of grace that draws us closer to each other, to God, and to neighbor. Today, we stand with our #calledout colleagues, Rev. David Meredith, Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto, and Rev. Frank Wulf. We endorse them for the Episcopacy and believe that they have been called for “such a time as this” (Esther 4:14) to carry out the three simple rules to “do no harm, do all the good you can, and stay in love with God” (Wesley, as summarized by Bishop Rueben Job).

Signed,
Rev. Austin L. Adkinson
Rev. Dr. Israel Alvaran
Rev. Elyse Ambrose
Rev. Douglas Asbury
M Barclay
Rev. Bonnie Beckonchrist
Rev. Rachel Birkhahn-Rommelfanger
Rev. Anna Blaedel
Rev Jan Bolerjack
Rev. Thomas Boller
Rev. William Brown
Rev. Britt Cox
Rev. Randa D’Aoust
Rev. Alex da Silva-Souto
Rev. Karen Dammann
Rev. Dr. James Dwyer
Rev. Renae Extrum-Fernandez
Rev. Anthony Fatta
Minister Micah Gary-Fryer
Rev. Rebecca Girrell
Taylor Gould
Rev. Nancy Goyings
Nicole Graham
Rev. Gregory Gross
Rev. Trey Hall
Rev. Dr. Edward Hansen
Rev. Janet Hanson
Diaconal Minister Peter Jabin
Rev C. Michele Johns
Rev Elizabeth Jones
Rev. Dr. Jeanne Knepper
Ellen Knight
Rev. Ardis Letey
Rev. Nea Lewis
Adam Marshall
Rev. Lea Matthews
Rev. Lois McCullen Parr
Rev. Courtney McHill
Rev. Cynthia Meyer
Reverend Jerry Miller
Rev. Dr. Richard Moman
Rev. Rachel Neer
Rev. Gregory Norton
Rev Dr Rebecca Parker
Emily Pickens-Jones
Pastor Kathleen Reynolds
Pastor Jonathan Rodríguez-Cintrón
Kenneth Schoon
Rev. Tyler Schwaller
Pastor Ryan Scott
Reverend Kim Smith
Rev. Dr. Althea Spencer Miller
Rev. Terri Stewart
Rev. Katie Stickney
Rev. Kristin Stoneking
Rev. Dr. Jennifer Tiernan
Rev. Adrienne Trevathan
Reverend Sara Thompson Tweedy
Rev. Martha E. Vink
Rev. Dr. Mark Williams
Rev. Jarell Wilson
Rev. Laura Young
Rev Vicki Woods

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