Here is the statement shared by Dr. Dorothee Benz this morning as the Council of Bishops meeting was again disrupted by members of Love Prevails and MIND. To watch the video, click here.
We feel it is impt to report back on the conversation we had last night with Bishop Ough, members of the commission as currently constituted, and a few others whom we invited to join us:
We began and ended by reiterating the demand, the urgent need for the COB to act with grace and admit its grievous mistake in how it has constituted this commission and to re-constitute it to include 50% LGBTQI people, whereby those people must represent the full, diverse spectrum of our communities, specifically, including people of color and women.
We asked for a response to this demand by 8am. We did not even receive the courtesy of a “no.”
That is why we are here, again, now.
The commission you have formed was mandated by the General Conference – and here I am quoting directly from this council’s statement that was adopted by the GC — “to develop a complete examination and possible revision of every paragraph in our Book of Discipline regarding human sexuality.”
Yet you have excluded LGBTQI people from having a meaningful voice on this commission that will examine the raft of discriminatory rules against us. There are two identified LGBTQI people, out of 32, on the commission, both white cisgender men.
For 44 years, this church has legislated about us, issued judicial rulings curtailing our rights, put us on trial, and studied us nearly to death in three prior commissions, always talking about us, never talking to us, with us.
And now this.
We are told this is not the time or the way to protest.
Well, when is?
Every institutional channel of change in the United Methodist Church is closed to us. At General Conference, there’s an airtight majority that refuses to recognize our humanity. Our Judicial Council rules steadfastly to enforce the rules of discrimination. Our trial courts forbid any defense based on the Gospel call of radical hospitality. Our annual conferences are forbidden to pass resolutions barring discrimination, and are overturned if they do.
This commission was the last chance for LGBTQI people to finally sit at the table and negotiate with those in power about our lives.
And now you have refused that as well.
You talk about doing no harm, yet refuse to use the power you have to stop the harm that is done on a daily basis to LGBTQI people by the system of codified discrimination in the UMC.
You talk about the need for unity, as though authentic unity could ever be built on a foundation denying the rights of queer people, sacrificing us for the goal of institutional preservation, and refusing to even name us in discussions about our very lives because somehow saying queer people exist in the UMC is controversial.
Unity without justice is a false god, and we will not have our lives sacrificed on that altar.
You want to know why the United Methodist Church is in crisis? Look in the mirror.