Methodist LGBTQ leaders respond to General Conference Commission meeting

The Commission on The General Conference of The United Methodist Church, a body of leaders planning the 2016 General Conference in Portland, Oregon, made a special invitation to representatives of Good News, MFSA, Love Prevails, Reconciling Ministries Network, and The Confessing Movement to their April 20TH meeting.

Representatives were invited to this listening session to share concerns, insights, and hopes for moving forward productively at GC 2016 with a particular interest in moving from debate to building consensus.

The meeting had no direct affect on legislation.

At the closing of the day, representatives of MFSA, MIND, Love Prevails, and Reconciling Ministries Network issued the following joint statement:

For immediate release
April 21, 2015
Contact:               Chett Pritchett, chett@mfsaweb.org
                                Amy DeLong, loveprevailsumc@gmail.com
                                M Barclay, m@rmnetwork.org

Methodist LGBTQ leaders respond to General Conference Commission meeting

 

April 21, 2105, Portland, OR – The General Commission on the General Conference of the United Methodist Church, the body organizing the church’s 2016 quadrennial governing meeting, General Conference, invited leaders from LGBTQ rights groups within the UMC to meet with it in closed session on April 20.

Following the meeting, the LGBTQ representatives – Dorothee Benz, Matt Berryman, Bridget Cabrera, Amy DeLong and Chett Pritchett – issued the following statement:

The issue of whether the United Methodist Church will continue to discriminate against LGBTQ people is of paramount importance to the future and viability of the church, not to mention the well-being of queer people in and beyond the UMC. We are grateful for the commission’s invitation and the opportunity to be in ongoing conversation with them. We ask the commission to take concrete, affirmative steps to prevent the harm suffered by LGBTQ people at past General Conferences from recurring in 2016. Whatever the church’s theological differences, there can be no place for spiritual violence in the church of Jesus Christ.

We also request that the commission schedule the consideration of LGBTQ-related legislation at the very beginning of the plenary week in order for this discussion to receive adequate time.

Further, we insist that any attempt at “dialogue” or “holy conferencing” must begin with the explicit acknowledgement that in the context of discrimination and oppression true dialogue can never occur. Genuine dialogue requires equality, and in the UMC that equality does not exist. One party comes to these dialogues defined as less than the other party, and no amount of vocal wishing for us all to act as “brothers and sisters together” changes that.

We remain open to all discussions that contribute to the process of ending the oppression of queer people by the United Methodist Church, and we will continue to work tirelessly to bring about that day. We are committed to calling the UMC to its highest and best self.

Dr. Dorothee Benz is the national representative for Methodists in New Directions; Matthew Berryman is the executive director of Reconciling Ministries Network; Bridget Cabrera is the deputy director of Reconciling Ministries Network; Rev. Amy DeLong is the founder of Love Prevails; and Chett Pritchett is the executive director of the Methodist Federation for Social Action. 

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2 thoughts on “Methodist LGBTQ leaders respond to General Conference Commission meeting

  1. You say, ‘Further, we insist that any attempt at “dialogue” or “holy conferencing” must begin with the explicit acknowledgement that in the context of discrimination and oppression true dialogue can never occur. Genuine dialogue requires equality, and in the UMC that equality does not exist. One party comes to these dialogues defined as less than the other party, and no amount of vocal wishing for us all to act as “brothers and sisters together” changes that.’

    It seems to me that what you disdain you also emulate and embrace. In other words, you come to the table feeling and believing that all who disagree with you are “less” than you, and that you are not willing to call any who disagree with you “brothers and sisters” because of their identified sin. So, how are you any different than those you criticize and lament. No oppressed group ever became equal to the oppressing group without conversation, convincing stories and dialogue. If you wait to be made equal before you believe that “genuine” dialogue can take place, then you may as well stay home and let some OTHER business get accomplished at GC. Because of the attitude expressed in your statement, I would vote that any proposed legislation or discussion of LGBTQ business be saved until ALL other needful and important business is accomplished. Then, if there is time, focus without interruption on LGBTQ concerns.

  2. This sort of comment shows how far we have fallen from the explicit directive of the church as well as the New Testament.
    Back in 1973, I walked into a college classroom a little late Since I was an “older student”, I was treated with some deference. The Professor said, “Ah, Mrs. Herrmann — we were just discussing the greatest changes in our society over the past 20 years. What do you see as the greatest change?” I was taken aback and a little slow on the uptake; I said “I can’t think of anything off hand.” He said he was shocked that I hadn’t said “the Civil Rights Movement,” but I replied that I didn’t think that movement had made much difference in the North. African Americans are still denied jobs, housing and education on the basis of color, even though no one dares to say so. He was disappointed. But he had worked hard, from the “white” side of the barrier, to integrate our university, and he wanted to believe that he’d succeeded.
    However, the success of dialogue has to be measured from the underside, not from the insider point of view. No matter how you may think the inclusion of LGBTQ people is going, members of that community cannot and will not be as open with you as you think. Every word must be measured, every story carefully edited, so as not to offend the majority, lest the majority decide, as you obviously have, that this dialogue isn’t worth having. You say “you are not willing to call any who disagree with you ‘brothers and sisters’ because {you believe all who disagree with you are ‘less’ than you.” Well, are you discussing my ability to serve God, or what my “rank” is in God’s eyes? What kinds of stories will be “convincing” enough for you?
    You sound to me like you are setting the bar for whatever talking will occur. You are cordoning off stories that are not ‘convincing.’ And you really do not understand why “DIALOGUE” can only happen between equals. If I demand that you admit me to your fellowship, be it because of skin color, gender or sexual preference, or national origin, etc., etc., you have already excluded me from the fellowship and object to my insistence that you listen to what I have to say.
    This is NOT holy conferencing. It is clear that you do not hear the pain of those who need to be heard. And it is not holy for us, on either side of these questions, to hurl insults at each other or call each other “less than, in the eyes of God” since at the very least we must admit that we really do not know the mind of God perfectly, but we do know that we are to “make disciples of ALL NATIONS, which I believe includes ALL KINDS of people. If Jesus got called a drunkard and a glutton, who eats with prostitutes and Law breakers, who are we to do anything other than that?
    The Rev Sandra errmann

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