“What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
It has been almost 40 days since the end of General Conference 2019. Still, it remains a time of frustration and deep pain, especially for LGBTQ United Methodists. It is not business as usual in The United Methodist Church.
Now more than ever, we have the opportunity to write the next chapter in the history of Methodism as one that includes all of God’s children. Since General Conference, over 4,000 individuals and over 20 churches and communities have joined the Reconciling movement, and we continue to grow.
As we grow, we want to reclaim what it means to be Reconciling and build a movement that centers marginalized persons, especially QTPOC (queer and trans people of color). Centering QTPOC lives and voices is not how we win LGBTQ justice; it is the start of LGBTQ justice. Progress will not be made by tokenizing leadership, which will give the Church the appearance of equity while achieving the same oppressive ends. The voices of marginalized people must be at the center of the work we do at this moment.
We also want to reaffirm the power of the Reconciling movement. We are a network of over 40,000 Reconciling United Methodists and over 1,000 Reconciling Churches and Communities. Dozens of statements, open letters, and bold refutations of GC2019’s shameful decisions have emerged from the people, communities, and churches of the Reconciling movement across the connection. Since GC2019, this people who call themselves Reconciling have borne witness for justice in media outlets, performed same-gender weddings, organized gatherings, and continued in faithful ministry as called by their Creator.
We are not only working on what is to come, but we are already living it. Justice movements within our Church can no longer seek justice by compromise. To do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God require us to rise and resist.
Part of our post-GC2019 work has included conversations about possible next steps for our beloved Church. We will continue to both lead and be part of conversations with United Methodists, church leaders, and groups around the connection. Only a few things are clear right now: that our Church is broken, and that we cannot be repaired or reborn through a typical General Conference legislative session.
In the midst of these conversations, churches are asking for guidance as they make important decisions. Should we suspend or withhold apportionments? What should we do with apportionment money if we suspend payments? How do we make direct payments to vital boards and agencies while withholding apportionments? Should we suspend or end ministries with groups outside the U.S.? Should we stay and resist or plan to leave? And how do we plan for January 1, 2020?
Options, recommendations and guidelines for considering these questions are evolving, and we will share our guidance and recommendations as well as the collective wisdom when they become more fully developed. Now is the time for us to gather and – led by persons of color and members of the LGBTQ community – live our way into this “new thing” God is creating. It is not yet clear if that will be within or outside of The UMC. But, centering marginalized voices is critical to the health and wholeness of what we can build together.
Here are a few ways that individuals and churches can rise and resist:
- Visit with the LGBTQ members of your church and community and ask how you can be most supportive and helpful
- Engage with a local LGBTQ organization in your community
- Host and/or participate in area conversations about the future of the Church and make your voice heard
- Host a local gay prom for queer HS students
- Organize to have at least one worship service at your annual conference planned and led by LGBTQ people
- Host a workshop at your annual conference where LGBTQ panelists share their faith stories
- Host a welcome and information booth at your annual conference
- Research candidates for your GC2020 delegation and engage where you can be most supportive in electing progressive and inclusive delegates
- Understand where your apportionment dollars are going
Churches and communities that are already affiliated with RMN can further live into their Reconciling covenant by undertaking the following:
- Share your dissent from the GC2019 decisions in ways that can be witnessed outside the walls of your church
- Hold conversations about how your church can celebrate LGBTQ persons
- If you don’t already participate in local PRIDE events, consider being a faith witness at PRIDE this season
- Serve as a leading voice in your district or conference
- Commit to hiring LQBTQ people of color for positions of leadership in your church, and notify your bishop of your commitment
- Write to your bishop or district superintendent and ask that they stand in solidarity with marginalized people
- Host a bible study led by someone on the margins
New Churches and Communities can engage in what it means to be Reconciling by:
- Planning to march in the local PRIDE parade
- Surrounding LGBTQ members with love and welcome
- Attending annual conference Reconciling gatherings
- Hosting a book study or other using books written by affirming LGBTQ Christians
We stand committed to the ongoing work for LGBTQ justice and the full inclusion and celebration of LGBTQ people in The UMC. We ask Reconciling Churches and Communities to rise and resist alongside us, declaring boldly that you invite and celebrate God’s LGBTQ children, welcome all United Methodists who enter your doors, and continue ministries in your local community with renewed passion.