We at Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) are deeply grateful for the work of the delegates to the Special Session of General Conference 2019. We are thankful to participants, observers, and our coalition partners for taking yet another stand for LGBTQIA+ inclusion at yet another General Conference. Ours has been a journey nearing fifty years on a road that is hard – and yet the Spirit meets us and we see Christ in one another. Jesus did say that no prophet is welcome in their own home. And yet, it is our home.
Despite the passage of the deeply unjust and painful Traditionalist Plan, we remain committed to justice, inclusion, and the full love of Christ for LGBTQIA+ people in The United Methodist Church. This has been the charge of reconciliation since the language, so harmful to so many lives, was added labeling a part of God’s good creation as “incompatible with Christian teaching” in 1972.
The Traditionalist Plan was passed by the efforts of organized opponents to gospel inclusion who have funded and promoted the demise of Christian witness across denominations who have dared to call out a white nationalist strain of Christianity. For decades, they sought the decline of biblical justice-rooted Christian traditions and have built the infrastructure and narrative that has now risen to power in The United Methodist Church. What has transpired today is an effort to weaken the Church and the local church, its global witness and reach, and the work of the Holy Spirit.
We especially recognize the torment of our LGBTQIA+ siblings for whom justice is delayed and thus denied. LGBTQIA+ children will continue to be born into and raised in churches who remain in a Traditionalist Plan-dominated denomination. LGBTQIA+ people will continue to be called into ministry for the delight of God and the sake of God’s kin-dom. The Traditionalist Plan seeks to ensure that no local church is a safe place for God’s LGBTQIA+ beloveds. And we especially acknowledge the harm that is explicitly done when LGBTQIA+ lives are not affirmed with a promise of abundant life and society responds with acts and words of violence.
Beloveds, hear these words of promise: in the kin-dom of God, you are loved.
We continue our pursuit of a church that loves as Jesus loves; that offers a balm as Jesus did; and surrounds our souls with biblical and gospel justice that creates disciples of Christ and transforms the world. We will gather soon to determine the next steps in our continued advocacy for LGBTQIA+ people in The UMC. There may be a “traditional” (divisive) plan, but by no means is our work abandoned. This is our Church. This is our Christ. This is our God.
“We’ve come this far by faith,” and the road ahead is uncertain. We do not travel alone. God is with us.