In Celebration of Rev. Amy DeLong’s Ordination

Fundraiser PosterIn celebration of the 20th anniversary of Rev. Amy DeLong’s ordination, we are launching a $20,000 campaign to fund the ongoing, prophetic work of Love Prevails.

 In one year (from June, 2017 – June, 2018), we hope to meet this ambitious goal, which will enable us to arrive at General Conferences 2019 and 2020 fully-funded and ready to make trouble for the sake of Gospel-inclusion.

 “When I was ordained in 1997, allies said to me, ‘‘Be patient … things will get better soon.’

 Well, I’ve been patient and ‘soon’ has turned into decades. Today, the discrimination against LGBTQ people is harsher than ever in the United Methodist Church. Love Prevails is working urgently to change that.” ~ Rev. Amy E. DeLong

Contributions can be made by PayPal at:
LovePrevailsUMC.org
or by sending a check to:
Love Prevails
PO Box 45234
Madison, WI 53744-5234

Love Prevails is a 501(c)3.
Your gift is tax deductible.

Print Poster for use at churches, conferences, etc.

Response to the Commission on a Way Forward

June 7, 2017

Dear Members of the Commission on a Way Forward,

In May, Love Prevails received an invitation from you claiming that because you “value our voice,” you’d like us to, “Describe your constituency’s preferred future for our denomination regarding the nature, conditions and extent of the inclusion of LGBTQ people within the Church.”

The United Methodist Church’s decades-long attempt to silence our voices and to destroy our community and culture have proven that LGBTQ lives are not valued in the least.

For 45 years, LGBTQ people and our allies have made countless theologically sophisticated and cogent arguments about why church-perpetuated and church-sanctioned injustice against LGBTQ people makes a mockery of God and the Gospel – and we will not rehearse that again in this suffocating and duplicitous context.

We will only say, what we have said ad nauseum:

The only proper and Christian corrective to the unjust and prejudicial treatment our people have received at the hands of the United Methodist Church is the full and complete removal of all language in the Book of Discipline which categorically discriminates against LGBTQ people. When, and only when, that is accomplished will we be able to move forward as equal and valued members of the Body of Christ.

May the Holy Spirit frustrate your attempts to use LGBTQ people as a bargaining chip toward some imaginary level of acceptable discrimination and exclusion.

Love Prevails,

Laci Lee Adams
Rev. Amy E. DeLong
Rev. Will Green
Rev. Sue Laurie
Rev. Tina Lang
Laura Ralston
Brenda Smith White

Dr. Mary Lou Taylor
Rev. Dr. Julie Todd
Rev. Wesley White

PDF of Response to the Commission on a Way Forward

Study Guide Response from Love Prevails

Love Prevails has reviewed the study guide, “Unity of the Church and Human Sexuality: Toward a Faithful United Methodist Witness”, and found it wanting in the usual institutional ways.

The guide describes itself as a resource that “addresses how the church can be a witness and provide for a diversified human community.” We know from years of experience that such common code language as, “diversified human community” and “human sexuality” refers to LGBTQ lives. Trying to find a middle ground where LGBTQ persons and those who would discriminate against them can live in unity is not helped by using coded language – and is predicated on the false notion that categorical discrimination can be part of a “faithful witness” and that such inequity has an accepted home within the Body of Christ.

This assumption becomes clear from page 1 when the authors admit that they have chosen not to honor the LGBTQ community by using their preferred, self-identifying language, but have instead chosen to use the language of the oppressor. “…the issues at hand involve inclusion of particular groups of people. Even naming some of these groups, however, is fraught with difficulty; for the sake of this guide, we shall refer to these people in the same manner as does our Book of Discipline” [emphasis added].

The Book of Discipline is based on language, concepts, and stereotypes of the 1970’s which continues to keep LGBTQ people from sharing the fullness of their lives, loves, experience of God’s grace, and gifts for all forms of ministry.

While the study guide seems generally sympathetic to changing the current incompatibility language, it does so by looking for a way for parts of The United Methodist Church to remain at odds with Jesus’ overarching message of boundary-less inclusion, with Peter’s insight that those gifted by God for ministry must not be called unclean (incompatible), or Paul’s pronouncement that there is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female, (gay or straight); for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. The incompatibility of discrimination within a diverse body needs to be recognized before proceeding with premature calls for a brokered unity through some form of local option or, as the guide suggests, “community of communities.”

The guide does nothing to clarify the reality of people’s LGBTQ lives and the political power to discriminate against those lives in our denomination. The audience for this study seems to be some theoretical moderate middle still able to “think intellectually” about an emotional and unthinking corporate prejudice.

The guide at least admits that it will not be read by those who have already made up their minds about the way forward. Yet, while recognizing that there are those who will not deal with LGBTQ people and their real lives, the guide still maintains the fallacy of neutrality by claiming an unbiased position while simultaneously engaging in an unbalanced conversation that privileges the oppressors’ language and misleading justifications (The Book of Discipline) against LGBTQ people who have not been invited to participate openly in the discussion. There is nothing here to assist General Conference to repent its almost 50 years of false claim that LTBTQ people are incompatible with Christ’s Way.

In the end, any of the guide’s pro-LGBTQ implications are easy to avoid because the style of the book is so passive. Like the Commission itself and the Colloquy upon which this study is predicated, this guide makes no contribution to a way forward. It simply offers a desensitization and normalization process to provide institutional legitimacy for those who desire to continue oppressing LGBTQ United Methodists.

It would have been better not to waste people’s time and the earth’s resources on something that contributes nothing but a tired attempt to bring something new by using the same old categorization of vibrant and amazing people of faith. To expect the same starting point to provide a different outcome is hostile: The United Methodist hate machine rolls on, projecting harm toward LGBTQ people.

From where I stand…

Janet Ellinger, United Methodist clergy, retired

April 30, 2017, was Confirmation Sunday.  I listened to eighth and ninth graders speak their “credo,”…that to which my heart clings.

Recent rulings within The United Methodist Church have moved me to state that to which my heart clings and where it is I stand.

I boldly speak against the injustice and discrimination toward LGBTQ persons, their families and allies that yet remains within, and is supported by, the policies and people of The United Methodist Church.

I announce the harm that is being inflicted over and over again to LGBTQ persons, their families and allies.  This is not “an issue.”  This is about real peoples’ lives, literally.

I call upon allies and families to add their voices, time and resources to protest this devastating attack on LGBTQ people that is an affront to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I will not make any further financial contribution that supports the institution through apportionments.  I know apportionments support good things, too.  This does not give me pause.  I easily find ways to continue my financial support of the good work in a local church as well as similar efforts for justice and compassion outside of the Church.

I dissent in place and will not leave The United Methodist Church.

I keep my clergy credentials.  The church is a vessel.  God has ordained me.  No one can take that from me.

The April 28, 2017, ruling of the Judicial Council regarding, “can a gay clergyperson serve as a bishop?” (my summary) and the possible judicial or administrative process that may unfold in Bishop Oliveto’s Western Jurisdiction, has made it very clear what The United Methodist Church is all about when it comes to gay clergy and their appropriateness for ministry.  It is this crazy “practicing” language.  “Self-avowed practicing homosexual…”  You can be gay, you just can’t “practice.”  So it all boils down to genital sexual contact.  I sat at a church trial a few years ago and listened to the Counsel for the Church ask the clergy on trial, “Have you had genital contact with your partner?” That is where the United Methodist Church is focused.  Shameful.  Disgraceful.

Bishop Jung, your statement on this recent Judicial Council ruling talks about a “minefield of differing opinions…living in the liminal spaces of uncertainty and disagreement is stressful…our journey is fraught with perils, pressures and problems…And where does that leave us?”

It leaves us with people torn to pieces, literally, by that minefield of “faith-mines.”  It leaves us with people being told they are outside of the love of God by a church that claims to have open hearts, open minds and open doors.  It leaves us with Church leadership whose language and actions are absent of the compassion and justice we are all called to pursue.  It leaves us as participating partners in a time in our national life that is fraught with shame, abuse and disregard for decency.  It leaves us with people who can’t take a step back and catch their breath because every time they do, the church repeatedly knocks the wind out of them.

When will I hear an official episcopal statement, or a bishop, say, “We/I so deeply lament the injustice and harm we continue to inflict on the LGBTQ community”?  And if that has been offered and I missed it, I apologize to the speaker.  I can only assume we are a denomination lead by sleep deprived leaders because I don’t know how one can sleep at night while this goes on – knowing you could do something about it and be somebody who speaks against this institutional harm.

All of this…and more…is that to which my heart clings.  This is where I stand today.

Rev. Janet Ellinger, retired United Methodist clergy.

Invitation for Input to Commission on a Way Forward

Love Prevails received the following invitation and anticipate articulating a response to the request soon. Stay tuned.

Invitation for Input to Commission on a Way Forward

To:     Amy DeLong, Love Prevails
Date:  May 1, 2017

Dear Ms. Delong,

As you know, the Commission on a Way Forward was established after the 2016 General Conference to find a way forward for the United Methodist Church. Our way forward must move us beyond the continuing impasse over the nature, conditions, and extent of the inclusion of LGBTQ people within the Church. We want to emphasize that we are not dealing with an abstract problem, but with people who are loved by God and are members of our Church.
 
The Commission values your voice and would like to receive your input prior to writing and submitting our final report to the Council of Bishops. Because there are so many groups desiring to participate in this discussion, we have developed two ways between which you may choose one.

1. Submit a three-minute video and send it to us.  A video shot on a cell phone is perfectly acceptable.
2. Or submit a two-page written document.

In your video or document, please respond to the following: Describe your constituency’s preferred future for our denomination regarding the nature, conditions and extent of the inclusion of LGBTQ people within the Church.

We understand that there may be others in your group who would like to provide input. While we appreciate the desire, we ask that you make only one submission. If you would like to work collaboratively with your leadership team or board, we think that is wonderful and invite you to do so within the bounds of one of the two options.

Please submit your response to us no later than June 10, 2017.

Thank you so much for your willingness to engage in this work and conversation with us.  We are so grateful for your participation and pray that out of our continuing work and dialogue we will, truly, discern God’s preferred future for the United Methodist Church.

In Christ,
The Commission on a Way Forward

Why Is It A Closed Meeting? The Commission On (Not) A Way Forward

img_5258Love Prevails went to Atlanta to observe the first face-to-face meeting of The Commission on (Not) A Way Forward. When we arrived, we were told that the Commission meeting was a closed meeting. In addition, we were informed that we were not allowed to even be in the building. Not even to go to the bathroom.

Hired security prevented any persons not on a pre-approved list of visitors from entering the General Board of Global Ministries Building, where the meeting is being held. Thomas Kemper, General Secretary of the Board of Global Ministries informed members of Love Prevails that in order for leaders of The Commission to approve of holding the meeting at GBGM, GBGM had to promise to put a tight security plan in place to prevent unwanted guests from entering the premises.

United Methodists were denied entrance into a building paid for by United Methodist apportionment dollars.

Pursuant to The United Methodist Book of Discipline, Love Prevails questioned the legality of The Commission being closed. Love Prevails sees this Commission as authorized by General Conference and thus required to be open. We sent a communication to Bishop Ken Carter, one of the co-chairs of The Commission, asking him to clarify the process and justification by which this meeting was closed to public observation.

Bishop Carter sent Love Prevails the following response, which makes reference to a Judicial Council footnote as its justification.

It is dangerous that the Council of Bishops has claimed authority over the entire process of this Commission.

We decry the Council of Bishops for their utter lack of transparency and commitment to maintain the institution over the pursuit of justice and love. The Commission is a farce.

From Bishop Ken Carter:

Dear Leaders of Love Prevails,

Thank you for your inquiry about the January meeting of the Commission on a Way Forward.  Attendance at the meeting was limited to members and staff in the interest of building trust and relationships among the membership.

The Commission on a Way Forward reports to the Council of Bishops, which is governed by the rules of procedure according to paragraph 722.  Judicial Council decision 869, which relates to paragraph 722, draws a distinction between the Council of Bishops and agencies, and between administrative order and the nature of superintendency.

We will be reporting on the work of the Commission to the church. We plan to design future opportunities to hear from constituents across the church, in a variety of ways.  We hope you will participate in one of these opportunities.

The Peace of the Lord,

Moderators:  Bishops David Yemba, Sandra Steiner Ball and Ken Carter

 

Year End Fundraising Appeal

December 2016

Dear Love Prevails supporter,

img_5074Through the disruption of business as usual at the church’s highest levels, during the last four years Love Prevails assisted The United Methodist Church in its gospel task of removing all of the anti-LGBTQ legislation from its Book of Discipline. Although dissatisfied with the outcomes of General Conference 2016, Love Prevails is proud of its work. We see our advocacy and disruption as the prime reasons for the system attempting to make any adjustments at all. The impact of our work is many-fold:

Love Prevails created a critical counter-narrative exposing the illegitimacy of our denomination’s anti-queer policies and the leaders who uphold them. Love Prevails is the only organization in our movement to clearly define that 1) the systemic justice issue is heterosexism and homophobia, and 2) the practical issue is hypocrisy. LGBTQ lives cannot be sacrificed on the altar of church unity. The primary task for church leaders at every level is to name and claim that homophobia is wrong, that The Book of Discipline must change and to act in accordance with these convictions. 

Love Prevails demonstrated that the practice of Disruption is a necessary and effective means of change in our shared struggle for LGBTQ inclusion. After General Conference 2012, the language of Disruption was anathema to our movement. From 2012-2016, Love Prevails’ willingness to show up, disrupt and communicate our counter-narrative and actions with clarity and transparency made the power of Disruption clear.

Love Prevails’ willingness to confront power and shake up business as usual gave people hope, courage and the inspiration to act. By our own unflinching commitment to raise up the dignity and faithfulness of LGBTQ people within the context of the direct oppression and injustice of the church hierarchy, we inspire others to embrace their own sacred worth and ability to act in their own context.

We are buoyed by your responses to our work. You encourage us to keep acting in ways that you may not be able to because of context, circumstance, trauma, repression and internalized oppression. Because you cannot always show up in the ways that we can, we are asking you to support our work in 2017 and beyond as we continue to show up and disrupt business as usual.

Please consider supporting our work by giving an end-of-year donation. If it is possible, we would love for you to help sustain our work for the quadrennium through a regular monthly contribution. Please make your financial donation through PayPal at https://loveprevailsumc.com/donate/ or make a check payable to Kairos CoMotion in care of Mr. Steven Webster, P.O. Box 45234, Madison, WI 53744-5234.

In justice and in love,

On behalf of the Love Prevails Team

PDF of 2016 End of Year Fundraising Letter