November 10, 2015
Dear Bishop Ough, Rev. Dr. Valdez-Barker and Members of the Connectional Table:
Since the Connectional Table is meeting online this fall, we are not able to be with you in person. We imagine you do not regret this outcome, though we’d like to think you would admit that our presence does make your meetings infinitely more interesting.
We would like to be present for your online meeting. Since all Connectional Table meetings are open to all United Methodists, we request that you send us the dates, times and online access information. As you prepare for the meeting, we would like to share some of our thoughts that address a few of our ongoing concerns.
The matter of general church meetings is itself a concern. A mere six months ahead of the General Conference, there is no face-to-face meeting scheduled of neither the full Connectional Table nor the General Commission on the General Conference. The General Commission intends to attempt passage of an alternative legislative process for discussing matters of same-gender sexuality, same-gender marriage, and ordination of LGBTQ persons. Aside from the extremely vague description of this process in a #CTTalks video, we have heard nothing about how these plans are proceeding. There is not one general church-level meeting listed on the GCFA Church Calendar between now and General Conference 2016 (see http://www.umc.org/calendar-gcfa-staging/gcfa-meetings). At the most critical time of the church calendar it is curious that there is no exposure and disclosure of church gatherings. It would seem to us that communication and transparency seem like appropriate priorities for a denomination in crisis.
We are paying attention to the #CTTalks video series on the General Conference that the Connectional Table is putting out over the months leading up to GC. In particular, we are eager to hear the CT describe its “Third Way” legislation on LGBTQ inclusion and discrimination in UMC.
Love Prevails is not in support of this proposal, as it constitutes a “separate but equal” practice for queer folks in the United Methodist Church. At your May 2015 meeting in, Rev. Amy DeLong explained that, “Saying that there’s a Third Way on issues of oppression and discrimination says simply to me that there is some level of my discrimination that you all are comfortable with. That’s a hard place to stand, knowing that you are comfortable with my oppression. The Third Way.”
From our perspective, removing all of the anti-LGBTQ language from The Book of Discipline is the goal. We do not accept that the best and most just proposal is regional discrimination. However, since the CT passed this legislation and a majority of you believe it is the best way forward, Love Prevails would like to know how the members of the CT, particularly the human sexuality task force and legislation committee, are going to organize and advocate for the passage of this Third Way Proposal.
Even though we do not believe the “Third Way” is a faithful response to the categorical discrimination of LGBTQ people, we, nonetheless, would be pleased to see you put some intentional action behind this proposal and make a true effort to get this legislation passed.
We imagine, however, that the words of Bishop Arichea at the same CT meeting will prove true. He said, “[This proposal] has a very slim chance of passing. And it definitely has no chance of passing if you don’t implement any strategy to get it passed.”
As Love Prevails’ activism is largely responsible for the emergence of both the Third Way and development of an alternative legislative process for passage of such a proposal, we request that you communicate with us the status of these items.
We look forward to seeing many of you in Portland in January at the United Methodist Communications’ pre-General Conference briefing. Until then, we remain yours in Christ,
Laci Lee Adams
Mary Anne Balmer
Rev. Amy DeLong
Dr. Mary Lou Taylor
Rev. Dr. Julie Todd
Brenda Smith White
Rev. Wesley White
Love Prevails Letter – November 2015 – PDF of letter