On the eve of annual conference, Methodists in New Directions (MIND), the RMN affiliate in the New York Annual Conference, launched its new website, Facebook and Twitter pages and an online newsletter, all anchored at www.mindnyorg.org The new web presence provided daily updates and real-time posts, enhancing MIND’s already substantial presence at conference.
One highlight was Mark Miller’s address to a packed room at the MIND lunch. “My God-given gayness is not up for a vote by some misguided Methodist,” said Miller. With humor, passion and extraordinary grace, Miller talked about how the church needs LGBT people and how the power of God’s love is stronger than fear. It is God’s love, he testified, that makes it possible to continue to love and serve the United Methodist Church even amidst the bitterness and pain we experience because of the church’s continued prejudice and discrimination against LGBT people.
MIND sponsored four resolutions at this year’s annual conference. One of them, calling on the conference to develop an active ministry to respond to the rising tide of hate violence, was developed in coalition with other groups in the conference (its Immigration Task Force, Commission on Race and Religion, Commission on the Status and Role of Women, Board of Church and Society and the Methodist Federation for Social Action) and explicitly lifts up together racial and ethnic minorities, LGBT people and others who are the targets of violence. The resolution came from the group, originally convened by MIND, planning an all-day symposium on hate crimes for November 20.
A second resolution recommends a penalty of one day of paid leave for clergy performing same-sex marriages, in the case that charges are brought against them that result in trials. It builds on a long record in NYAC of opposition to the UMC’s bn n gay marriage.
A third resolution, “Ministry to the Marginalized: Welcoming LGBT People into NYAC,” was ruled out of order by the bishop. It calls on the conference to take out advertisements in LGBT publications that express the conference’s “heartfelt regret for the harm inflicted on LGBT people through the UMC’s homophobia and discrimination, and…share in these advertisements that NYAC has long been opposed to UMC policy on homosexuality and welcome and invite LGBT people to worship in NYAC churches.” The ads are to be paid for by voluntary contributions (because the Discipline prohibits the use of conference funds to “promote homosexuality”). MIND immediately challenged the ruling and emphasized that all the resolution seeks to do is to tell other people what our conference has already resolved and stated it believes. How can it be “out of order” to tell the very people affect by our pronouncements what they are? If we can pass resolutions saying we oppose discrimination, but we cannot tell those being discriminated against, what is the point?
The Reconciling witness at annual conference was visible and unavoidable in other ways as well. Dozens of volunteers staffed the MIND table, which was almost constantly surrounded by people looking for information or resources or offering support. MIND’s annual “t-shirt day” once again flooded the conference floor in a sea of purple. We also handed out 1,000 armbands to clergy and guests at the ordination service, marking for the sixth year now our witness against the exclusion of gay and lesbian people from ordained ministry. Our witness concluded on the fourth day, when MIND took part in the conference’s Momentum of Ministry festival. Dozens of people joined MIND, hundreds took flyers and brochures and many stopped to rest and talk in our “welcome home” space.
For more information, check out our daily reports on the MIND website:
- How Did We Get Here? Where Do We Go from Here? - August 23, 2018
- On bishops, choices, and the prompting of the Holy Spirit - November 8, 2016
- Statement read to the Council of Bishops - November 1, 2016