As a Civil Rights Movement activist who was present at the March on Washington, involved in Mississippi Freedom Summer, marched in the Selma to Montgomery March, and participated in the Poor People’s Campaign Rally in Washington, I was surprised at my response to Episcopal Priest Malcolm Boyd’s announcement in the 1970s that he was gay. His book, Are You Running With Me Jesus?, his civil rights activism, and his campus ministry all influenced me. However, I discovered, in my response to his coming out, that there was a bit of homophobic heterosexism within me.

Soon, my faith, justice commitments, and African American history and heritage of resistance to discrimination, transcended my prejudice and I became an ally and advocate of LGBTQ rights in The United Methodist Church and society.

That epiphany experience has been expressed in my support of Reconciling Ministries Network through my writing, protesting, and my giving. 

I have become a believer in Henri Nouwen’s writing about “Wounded Healers.” My wounds–caused by others and by myself–have empowered and enabled me to “speak up and out,” despite my awareness of my imperfections. I do that with no sense of self-righteousness, but with the belief that out of our personal woundedness, healing for others and self may emerge.

God’s transformation of me, those who read this, or with The UMC is “not completed yet.”

We are standing at a crossroads today in The UMC. We have been here before, and just as we walked boldly across that bridge in Selma in the name of justice, we must walk boldly into this crossroads and take advantage of all the opportunities for LGBTQ justice present within it.

Our support of RMN will, with God’s guidance, bring in a new day of justice and reconciliation of all kinds within The UMC as we build a United Methodist Church where all are welcome to use their gifts in God’s service. 

I urge all who read this to support Reconciling Ministries Network as they: 1) build relationships across The UMC connection, 2) share the joy of the ministry that LGBTQ people already do in our beloved church and 3) model a church that affirms the place of LGBTQ people at the center of the church. Join us in our work to Be the Way Forward!

God’s blessings on you and Happy Holidays,

Rev. Gil Caldwell

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