Rooted & Rising is a call to the Reconciling movement for the next season of our collective work for LGBTQ justice and inclusion in the Church. It represents our vision for a Church that thirsts for justice and that searches for living water, no matter what the denomination decides when the General Conference meets.
Let’s start by discussing the two foundational pillars of those strategies.
1. RMN’s commitment to center intersectional justice and equity
Racism and colonialism pervade our Church and society, and RMN laments its participation and complicity in these spiritual and systemic ills. We intend to do everything possible to help right the wrongs within the Church we love and model justice and equity for the wider world.
RMN is a faith-based, justice-seeking organization. As such, we believe that this process, rooted in truth-telling and honest assessment, must begin with us. Therefore, we elected to begin with a thorough, full-staff examination of the ways in which whiteness has been and continues to be at work within RMN.
We expect this process to bear fruit, resulting in recognition, repentance, and change. Subjects of investigation can include the following elements common to nonprofit organizations: mission, vision, values, leadership structures, hiring and training policies, paid holidays, access to health insurance, daily work routines, communications norms, decision-making processes, complaint procedures, and more.
As our journey continues and we reach important decisions, we will share with the wider movement official improvements to our structures, policies, and ways in which we commit to living out our values together.
2. A renewed focus on and strategic approach to our grassroots work
For 36 years, Reconciling United Methodists (RUMs) have been building a network of Reconciling Churches, Communities, and Campus Ministries (RCs) across the United States and now globally. This network has played a central role in shifting the conversation about LGBTQ justice and inclusion in The UMC, and we are extremely grateful.
While we remain fully engaged in General Conference-level work, we are now called to renew our focus on you: on the boundless potential of the grassroots. RMN can be most effective for LGBTQ justice by prioritizing collaboration with teams in each Annual Conference to multiply the number of affirming, Reconciling ministries around the world.
We believe that, no matter the outcome of our current denominational struggles, there is life-saving value in continuing to grow the Reconciling movement throughout our connection and into any future expressions of Methodism that may become a part of our story.
Now let’s focus on the three strategies we will undertake to make that vision a reality.
1. A required, foundational, intersectional Reconciling statement
RMN is making an immediate shift from encouraging to requiring intersectional advocacy named in Reconciling statements adopted by groups that affiliate with RMN.
As our work for LGBTQ justice has evolved, so have language requirements for Reconciling statements. In 2009, we added “gender identity.” In 2017, we required a shift from “welcome” to the use of either “affirm” or “celebrate.”
While RMN has always encouraged RCs to advocate with an intersectional lens, we have not required this language for Reconciling statements. It’s time for that to change. LGBTQ justice requires intersectional justice. As part of RMN’s ongoing work to live into our values, we believe it’s important to move from encouraging to requiring intersectional language.
Effective September 18, 2020, all new Reconciling Churches, Communities, Campus Ministries, and Colleges must vote to adopt the following statement.
“We celebrate God’s gift of diversity and value the wholeness made possible in community equally shared and shepherded by all. We welcome and affirm people of every gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation, who are also of every age, race, ethnicity, physical and mental ability, level of education, and family structure, and of every economic, immigration, marital, and social status, and so much more. We acknowledge that we live in a world of profound social, economic, and political inequities. As followers of Jesus, we commit ourselves to the pursuit of justice and pledge to stand in solidarity with all who are marginalized and oppressed.”
Of course, your group is welcome to say even more if you wish. A vote to adopt this statement, as written, will serve as the foundational requirement for affiliating with RMN.
2. An invitation to existing Reconciling Ministries to join RMN’s strengthened commitment to intersectionality and expanded grassroots work
The Rooted & Rising campaign invites all existing RCs to renew their commitment to RMN in three ways.
A. We invite RCs to revisit your Reconciling statement and join our collective endorsement of intersectional language.
RCs are the backbone of our movement, and we are immensely grateful for you and for your work. We’ve grown together over the decades, with many of you updating your Reconciling statements as we discovered new and better ways to support LGBTQ people and justice.
Now we urge you to revisit both your ministries and your statement, updating anything needed to clarify your intersectional affirmation and advocacy. We hope you will prayerfully consider and decide, by vote or whatever means appropriate for your RC, to renew your commitment to LGBTQ justice and to RMN in ways that include adopting the new required language. In the next couple of weeks we will provide a process for you to notify us of your work, and we will update our records and celebrate your decision with you. As always, the RMN Organizing Team is ready to support you.
B. We invite Reconciling Ministries to renew your commitment to help multiply the Reconciling witness in your church, district, and/or conference.
See #3 below for more details on new opportunities to create LGBTQ-affirming community where you live.
C. We invite Reconciling Ministries to renew your commitment to the financial support of RMN and its important work.
3. A more strategic approach to grassroots work in Annual Conferences
Grassroots work incorporates all the ways through which Reconciling United Methodists (RUMs) engage and support LGBTQ justice in The UMC. This includes Annual Conference efforts, organizing within local churches and small groups, and financially supporting RMN.
Here are three new ways to make a difference.
- Rooted & Rising Annual Conference teams will work with their RMN organizer to set specific goals for increasing the number of RCs in their Annual Conference, focusing especially on areas with low Reconciling presence.
As you may have guessed, each conference will need both existing and new leaders to say yes! to this Rooted & Rising invitation. We hope you see both the need and the potential for this great, collaborative effort. If you’d like to be a part of your Annual Conference’s Rooted & Rising team, contact your Organizer.
- RMN is also adding a new type of Reconciling Community to our list of options for affiliation: a Regional Reconciling Community (RRC).
RUMs connected through an RRC are often members of many different United Methodist churches in the area, but the RRC itself is not attached to any local church. They may meet once a month in a neutral or rotating setting in the area. RRCs are transformative communities that reduce isolation, provide systems for support and study, and establish opportunities for advocacy and growth. RRCs hold enormous potential for RUMs in the United States and Central Conferences alike, and we will work with you to establish them in our many places of great need.
- Financial gifts are essential to keeping RMN’s doors open and our collaborative work moving forward. This keeps our grassroots alive. You can be a part of this work by joining The Wellspring, our growing community of recurring donors.
Rooted & Rising is a collective call to hope and endurance. We are inspired by you, Reconciling United Methodists, and we hope you are inspired by the past and present of the Reconciling movement to engage anew, multiply our collective impact, and rise to the challenge of justice and inclusion.
Why grassroots efforts are important
While we need General Conference to do its part in changing official polity, and while we continue our work to influence denominational change, we know that neither a change in the Book of Discipline nor an option for traditional churches to leave will instantly produce a denomination that affirms LGBTQ people and practices intersectional justice. Policy doesn’t change hearts and minds. Relationships do that. Study and storytelling do that. Individual RUMs, alongside our family of RCs, are needed to influence this important shift.
The network of RUMs on the ground and throughout the connection is strong and passionate. We’re up to this holy work and capable of creating a justice-centered expression of Methodism. Let’s utilize this unexpected delay of General Conference as an opportunity to multiply our presence, witness, and impact.