Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) is delighted that the Philippines Central Conference (PCC) of The United Methodist Church (The UMC) now includes a formal Reconciling Community where lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer persons are welcomed and celebrated as part of the body of Christ. They join a powerful growing witness of United Methodists around the world who believe #ItsTime to finally welcome and celebrate LGBTQ persons at the Welcome Table of God.

Like other Reconciling Communities and Congregations of RMN, Kabahaghari Reconciling Community issued a welcoming statement in order to publicly welcome and celebrate all LGBTQ persons and provide an alternative to the anti-LGBTQ policies of the denomination. As a part of an ever-expanding network of churches and communities committed to justice and inclusion, they declare in pertinent part:

“We are part of the Body of Christ and uphold the call of the Gospel to love all people. We welcome and affirm all persons regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, age, race, ethnicity, physical abilities, and economic status. All persons are of sacred worth and created in the image of God.”

RMN celebrates the leadership of Bishop Leo Soriano, one of three bishops in the Philippines Central Conference, who signed the welcoming statement of the Kabahaghari Reconciling Community. Bishops are called to lead the people of God toward an ever-increasing commitment to the gospel of Jesus that the world may know fullness of life for all. By signing the statement, Bishop Soriano takes his position as a leader among leaders demonstrating what it looks like when bishops use the privileges they possess to liberate the oppressed and proclaim release to the captives:

Bishop Leo Soriano (Photo via UMNS)
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Bishop Leo Soriano
(Photo courtesy UMNS)

“I am overjoyed to be a part of the emergence of communities committed to inclusion for all people in the body of Christ. LGBTQ inclusion is not only a concern for white westerners. Because the gospel is of primary importance for Methodists around the world, we in the Philippines care deeply about welcoming all people into our churches and communities. I celebrate the image of God in LGBTQ people everywhere on this day.”

One of the conveners of Kabahaghari United Methodists, Erizelle Nievera-Linaban of Tangos UMC (Navotas, Metro Manila), believes that hospitality should be coupled with advocacy:

left to right: Paula Maria Gregg, Floyd Castro, and Erizelle Never-Linaban
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left to right: Paula Maria Gregg, Floyd Castro, and Erizelle Never-Linaban

“Our churches should be sanctuaries of grace – safe spaces for LGBTQ persons. We are giving birth to a community that values Christ’s unconditional love above all, committed to advocate for the full inclusion of all persons in The UMC. Seeking to fullfil our baptismal vows, we strive to resist any form of discrimination and oppression, and stop the harm being done to LGBTQ persons.”

As Kabahaghari joins Reconciling Ministries Network, we recognize that this is an important milestone in our movement within The UMC to change denominational policies that discriminate against children of God. We also recognize the importance of today’s announcement in that it reminds us all that the Spirit of God is at work all around the world bringing justice, inclusion, and love for LGBTQ persons. As United Methodists gather at the General Conference next month, RMN is proud and honored to join with siblings in the Philippines around the world who believe #ItsTime for change in The UMC.

Read their welcoming statement here.

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