There were police blocking the doors, people weeping on their knees, there were protestors and revelers, there was division. No words can capture what it was like on Tuesday the 26th when the vote came through. On Wednesday the words were added to the Book of Discipline, words that, if they stand as passed, will keep all members of the LBGTQI family from practicing licensed, commissioned, and ordained ministry in the United Methodist Church. But the damage is already done, the world saw the church close its doors to protect an interpretation of righteousness and holiness. Tuesday my mother texted me from her church, “we are here, we are still doing ministry,” and on Sunday our members will still go to church, our pastors will still do their ministry, our church will still preach the word of God. But for me and 6 million others, I will be weeping and mourning the loss of church home. If the legislation stands as passed on Tuesday the 26th, come January 1st, 2020 I will no longer be welcome as a member of or a pastor in The United Methodist Church and my removal will not be a matter of preference or choice it will be a matter of church law. The Western Jurisdiction had declared that as a church that has been #OneChurch4All it intends to maintaining the safety for the LBGTQI community. Our Bishops and leadership are committed to preserving the diversity that has marked our vibrant life as the most ethnically and age diverse jurisdiction in the world. And many cannot stay in a church that tells us we are incompatible with Christian teaching.
Many decisions are pending. For those of us who are part of the LBGTQI community, we need time to name the hurt and harm committed at General Conference 2019. For the rest of the United Methodist family, regardless of our interpretation of what happened on Tuesday, regardless of our plan preferences, we need to acknowledge that the church is divided and that cannot be undone. No one won on Tuesday, the somber mood on the floor speaks to that. We cannot take back the words we shared, the fight we had, the interpretation of truth we voted on. And we can move forward.
As your Director of Connectional Ministries, a member of the LBGTQI community, a life long United Methodist, and a pastor who has given my life to ministry in our church for the last 13 years, I ask all of us to spend some time giving space to prayer, grieving, and feeling what we feel. For those who are at peace with this decision, give your family space and time to process, know that we are with you in prayer. For all of us, I ask that we give the biblical 40 days to process this information before making decisions about what to do next. I have committed my life to the UMC and I will not break the covenant with this church over a General Conference decision.
On March 7th and 8th the connectional ministries office will be offering a General Conference interpretation session at 6:00 PM, MST. The purpose of the gathering is to clarify what legislation passed, what the Judicial Council challenges to it are, and what the next steps for the Desert Southwest Conference, and around the denomination are. Click Here to register.