by Rev. Will Green
(compiled from Facebook posts)
Post 1: The morning after General Conference I went to the hotel where the bishops were staying with this sign that reads “Press 1 for Unity. Press 2 for Incompatible. Please vote now.” The UMC has created a situation that guarantees failure. They can promote their version of unity, which leaves many of us incompatible with Christian teaching. Or they can support the church’s current statements on sexuality, which means we are not united. There is no more time to figure this out. The General Conference decided to follow the leadership of the Council of Bishops, which means deferring all actions and decisions for several more years. This leaves gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and other queer people incompatible and outside of the UMC’s unity. It is obvious to everyone that we need other options. I have chosen to continue using my power by disregarding the church’s unjust rules and applying pressure on the people who are upholding the institution.
Post 2: Friends who are trying to put a positive spin on the Bishops’ Commission or figuring out how we can use the system and the process to our advantage… we can’t! If you think we are going to get the best of the system if we get the right people in the right seats and get them to vote the right way, then hope will die again and again and again. We have been doing that for 44 years and we have lost, lost, lost… Our power is not in the system. Our power is in withdrawing our support from these systems and joining together in collective action that challenges the institution. (Coming out, not just as GLBTQ, but also coming out as ones who will continue to defy injustice! Ordaining GLBTQ people! Performing same-gender weddings! Being in meaningful relationships and ministries with queer people! Learning to tell the truth and not repeat popular lies!) The institution is powerless without our complicity. That is why we disregard unjust laws, refuse to comply with attempts to intimidate and practice solidarity with others. (Go ahead and refer to it as the Book of Disregard when we are taking about the hateful parts that are written to hurt people!) We are strong when we act together for what is right. God will keep doing beautiful things through our faithfulness.
Post 3: Today the Council of Bishops voted to refer setting up the special Commission to their Executive Session meeting in November of this year. This means it will be 2017 at the earliest before the Commission even meets… General Conference adjourned less than 24 hours ago and I hope that people can now accept that this Commission is not going to both organize a special session of General Conference AND create comprehensive reforms to every paragraph in the Book of Discipline that deals with “sexuality.” The bishops’ plan worked very well – business as usual! Who was it who thought the Bishops would “lead” us forward again?
Unlike many who have posted comments about the GC, I am not a cradle Methodist. But because of the work of Love Prevails, RMN and Open ARMS, to name just three of the lifelines that have kept me hopeful for the past several years, I thought that I finally found my spiritual home. After being raised Catholic, spending years being told that I was intrinsically disordered, and knowing that there was zero chance of same-sex relationships being recognized by the Catholic Church, I thought that the 60-40 vote against such relationships in the 2012 UMCGC was a step up. I was hopeful, and excited.
Then I watched the 2016 GC…and proudly displayed “It’s Time” as my FB avatar…and now I have nagging doubts whether I had in fact found my spiritual home. To support an organization that professes its love for me…conditionally…runs contrary to who I am.
I feel lost at the moment. Whatever I decide, however, I will feel forever grateful for the comfort I experienced during the GC from the words and visual presence of such folks as Rev. Green and Dr. Benz and so so many others who put themselves on the line…And on the floor at times…to stand up for the many LGBTs who remain second class citizens in the UMC. God bless you all.