We recognize the Connectional Table’s attempt to expand two areas of church life to allow for more inclusivity of LGBTQ people (clergy-based decisions regarding marriage and Annual Conference-based decisions of ordination). We honor that there has clearly been struggling and creativity applied. However, in light of forty years of ever increasing draconian restrictions, we remain convinced that these sorts of moderations are too little, too late.
Sometimes we are kept away from being present physically with the causes that we support. Sometimes that is because of the busy lives we all have in activism and sometimes it is because meetings are held in other countries and are not accessible to us whether clergy or lay members of the UMC.
Even so, we work to #showup in our own contexts in the ways that we can, when we can. In what ways do you #showup for justice? Below is Love Prevails member, Laura Ralston, participating in the #DreamUMC twitter chat leading up to the next Connectional Table Meeting.
People often ask us why, after all of these years of struggle, we at Love Prevails continue to show up for the movement for LGBTQ justice and inclusion in our church. Each member of the Love Prevails team has different reasons why. Here Rev. Dr. Julie Todd tells us why she keeps showing up. We would love to hear from you. How do you plan to #showup for justice in your community and church this year?
Note: The following is a letter from Rev. Jim Todd, Rev. Dr. Julie Todd’s father. The letter has been used to raise funds for Love Prevails in New England, but the LP team believes it is powerful enough to be shared across all forms of media. Enjoy this beautiful expression of inclusion, and if you are financially able to end your year with a gift to Love Prevails, please do so here.
Thank you, Jim.
Dear pastors and members of reconciling congregations:
My daughter, Julie, has committed many years of her life making sure the doors of the United Methodist Church are open to LGBTQ people. I do not understand, in this day and age, the United Methodist Bishops, pastors and lay people who refuse to fully open the doors and welcome “ALL” into the community of faith, including pastoral appointments. The UMC, as we know it, is becoming increasingly irrelevant as a backward, punitive and judgmental organization.
For the last couple of years Julie has worked closely with Amy DeLong (both UM clergy) to right the wrongs and fully open the doors of our denomination. During these years, they have “showed up” when the Bishops and the Connectional Table meet to promote their agenda of truly “open doors” Their organization, “Love Prevails” – www.loveprevailsumc.com – and their Facebook page tell the story.
At a recent gathering of the Bishops and Connectional Table in Oklahoma City, Love Prevails members were constantly harassed by United Methodist staff. They were seen as troublemakers and locked out of meetings. Police and hotel security were called by church leadership for no good reasons.
I am embarrassed and angry that our denomination has treated Love Prevails members the way they have. The Bishops do little or nothing to open the doors because they claim they “need to keep unity and serve the whole church.” Is this the same reasoning our denomination used when people of color and women were denied full rights?
Mary and I regularly provide financial support for Love Prevails and their efforts to open the doors of the UMC for full inclusion (including ordination) of LGTBQ people. For 40 years they have been left out of full participation. How can we, as Christians, accept this United Methodist policy and foot-dragging? This restrictive policy can be changed only every four years. I strongly believe if Jesus were to attend the 2016 General Conference in Portland, OR, he would support such a change.
So why am I sharing all this with pastors and reconciling congregations? I am inviting you to financially support Love Prevails and their prophetic stand. It is not only because of Julie’s involvement, but that is a motivating factor, for sure. It is because you can help Love Prevails “show up” and make a difference. You can make a tax deductible donations toward a $9,000 matching grant. Kairos CoMotion (www.Kairoscomotion.org), is the 501(c)3 financial sponsor of Love Prevails. Mail your contribution c/o Margaret Talcott, Treasurer, PO Box 45234, Madison, WI 53744, or go to their website and contribute through PayPal.
I hope you will seriously consider joining me with your own financial contribution to help the UMC become a more inclusive church where ALL people are valued.
Love peace. Promote Justice,
Rev. Jim Todd (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Love Prevails recently received a very generous $9,000 donation from two long-time United Methodist LBGTQ justice activists. Listen to the reasons why they gave to Love Prevails so generously. To continue to do our work to Show Up and Disrupt, we are challenging our supporters to collectively match this gift by the end of 2014. We would also gladly accept your donation of frequent flyer miles and hotel points. Please make your financial donation at http://loveprevailsumc.com/donate/ and flyer miles/hotel points through email with email@example.com.
In the epilogue to The Cherokee Nation and the Trail of Tears, the authors conclude: “The Trail of Tears is their (the Cherokee) story, but it is also an American story. And if it is a story we are not proud of, we should make sure that its lesson is well learned: Racism, greed, and political partisanship can subvert even the noblest American ideals.”
While reading the book, I could not help but make parallels, not just to what is happening in the United States today (where racism, greed and political partisanship seem even worse than ever), but to what has been happening over and over around the world. The American government’s treatment of Native Americans in the United States, especially its policy of removal, was our Holocaust. White Christian Europeans assumed that the native tribes were lesser than fully human, that because their civilization was different, it was uncivilized, and because they worshipped in a different way, they were heathen. While there were no gas chambers and no grand design of extermination, the United States government forced thousands of men, women and children to march over 1,000 miles barefoot, with little clothing, almost no tents, inadequate food and literally none of their belongings. Everything they owned had been taken from them. Many died.
In the last paragraph, I have written “the government,” but in truth I should say “we.” Though we were not alive at the time of the past atrocities against Native Americans, we currently sit in our living rooms and watch as people around the world are suffering a similar fate. Trails of Tears continue.
I pray that understanding what the Cherokee Nation suffered, and what all of the First Nations peoples suffered, will help me get out of my living room and really commit to working for safety and dignity of all people. I look forward to the next six weeks of study, and to going to participating in continuing Acts of Repentance and Healing towards Indigenous People through the United Methodist Church.
Join the Love Prevails 2014 Native American Study as we engage in larger resistance to oppression within the United Methodist Church. For more information check out the tab above and please read the letter sent to the Council of Bishops and Members of the Connectional Table below for more information.