United Methodist Church NY Conference Affirms Out LGBTQI Clergy, Making History in Discriminatory Denomination

United Methodist Church NY Conference Affirms Out LGBTQI Clergy, Making History in Discriminatory Denomination

June 9, 2016 • Category: News, Photos

Contact: Dorothee Benz 718-314-4432, writetobenz@gmail.com

June 9, 2016 Hempstead, NY – For the first time in the 44-year history of official anti-LGBTQI bias in the United Methodists Church, a clergy session of an annual conference has approved for ordination and commissioning out queer clergy. The vote late last night by the New York Annual Conference culminates decades of opposition to the UMC’s discriminatory policies by the conference and comes on the heels of a contentious General Conference that affirmed the church’s […]

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General Conference 2016 – God Is Better Than The Church

“I believe in the sun / even when it’s not shining / I believe in love / even when I don’t feel it /I believe in God / even when God is silent.” At General Conference 2016, these words from Mark Miller’s song “I Believe” became our mantra of sorts. Wednesday, May 18th was supposed to be the big day that all “human sexuality” (their term, not ours) legislation came to the floor for a vote. On Wednesday morning, queer clergy as well as LGBT allies gathered outside the convention center for a silent protest. Queer clergy were robed and joined by allies holding crosses with stoles from the Shower of Stoles Project, representing the lives of LGBT people of faith.

stoles_at_gc2016As delegates and bishops entered the convention hall they walked by queer clergy and allies standing as a witness with signs that read, “I am your sister” and “I am a queer pastor.” Many of the people that walked by thanked us for our witness and several were in tears as we stood strong, basking in the bright rays of the morning sun, knowing that we are all God’s children and that God called us here. It was a powerful witness to the fact that LGBTQI individuals are people and not issues. As worship ended, we processed in the convention hall through the bar (where the delegates are seated) and gathered around the table that sits in the middle of the hall. All of this occurred while the session was taking place--there was no way anyone in the hall could miss our powerful silent witness--where we faced the bishops, then turned and faced the crowd, offering both a blessing before walking out singing.

Shortly after, Bishop Bruce Ough, president of the Council of Bishops, presented a plan designed to keep the church from splintering over its discriminatory stance on LGBTQI rights titled, “An Offering For A Way Forward.” Ough said the bishops continue to hear from people “that our current Discipline contains language which is contradictory, unnecessarily hurtful, and inadequate for the variety of local regional and global contexts.”

An Offering for a Way Forward #UMCGC

Bishop Ough was careful to note that support for this plan was not unanimous within the Council of Bishops.

The plan would:

  • Create a diverse commission to research and revise the Book of Discipline’s language about LGBTQI people
  • Call for a special session of General Conference. Should they fail to complete this work in time for that special General Conference, there will be a two-to-three day gathering before the 2020 General Conference for this purpose.
  • Finally, the plan would also defer votes on all human sexuality petitions coming before the 2016 General Conference.

The General Conference passed this plan by a narrow margin (428-405 votes).

“An Offering For A Way Forward” prevented any new legislative action that would further harm LGBTQI people, but does not stop the current harm that is already being done. Nothing in the Book of Discipline has changed. Harm is still being done. No moratorium was called on church trials. The Bishops need to call on a complete moratorium on disciplinary actions against LBGTQI people and any clergy who marry them, as we believe that unity without justice is a false unity. We are calling on unity that is honest, respectful and inclusive of all persons.

During morning worship on the last day of General Conference, Bishop Elaine Stanovsky reminded us that, “The church is of God, but the church is not God. The good news is that God is better than the church.” God is better than the church. Additionally, Rev. Dr. Pamela Lightsey reminded us on Pentecost that, “We’ve got to obey God rather than the Book of Discipline.” As the Bishop's Commission starts its process, we pray that they would keep Bishop Stanovsky’s challenge for us to get out of the tomb and look for a true way forward including all voices at the table. Bishop Stanovsky said, “If you believe the Bible condemns homosexuality, but you’ve never asked a gay Christian how they read the Bible, you’ve got to get out of the tomb.” We’ve got to get out of the tomb as a United Methodist Church. We firmly believe that any change that happens is a result of our movement’s pressure on the institutional church to create change.

We will continue to work to create change. We did not let the last day of General Conference go by without one more reminder that we are still here, with one final protest, and singing, “I am not forgotten / you are not forgotten /God knows your name.”

Bruce Lamb
MIND Steering Committee
Associate Minister
Mt. Calvary/St. Mark's United Methodist Church

Join MIND Marching in the 2016 NYC Gay Pride March

Save the date: Sunday, June 26th

More information to come as we get closer to the date about meeting location and time. Gather your church groups and friends as we MIND and many other UMCs join together to march in the NYC Gay Pride March. Let’s join together in a prophetic witness. There will be singing, communion and of course fun!

2016 NYC Pride Theme: EQUALITY NEEDS YOU

We’re getting closer, but we aren’t there yet. Just ask the bisexual homeless youth on the Christopher Street Pier, the trans worker trying to achieve the American dream, or the gay refugee escaping certain death in his war-torn homeland. The Supreme Court's affirmation of marriage equality marked progress in the national and worldwide LGBT movement, but it was not a finish line. Equality needs you now more than ever. In 2016, we are making sure that some of the world’s largest and most visible LGBT events are helping to amplify our continued fight. EQUALITY NEEDS YOU, and you can answer the call.

Why do you call it a March rather than a parade?

The first LGBT Pride was held on the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. It was an unpermitted, explicitly political protest of anti-LGBT policies and attitudes. Our commitment at Heritage of Pride is to continue recognizing our Pride event as a March until complete and full equality has been achieved for all LGBT people.

For more information contact MIND Gay Pride March Organizer Bruce Lamb.

Union Seminary Alumni Council Supports LGBTQI Clergy

MIND has received a letter written to Bishop Jane Allen Middleton in response to the Call to declare “We Are!” Open letter to the people of The United Methodist Church from the co-chairs of the Alumni/ae Council of Union Theological Seminary, expressing their "deep appreciation for the faithful and courageous witness of the 15 signatories of the Open Letter." 

The letter reads as follows:

Dear Bishop Middleton:

As co-chairs of the Alumni/ae Council of Union Theological Seminary, we are writing to express out deep appreciation for the faithful and courageous witness of the 15 signatories to the "'We Are' Open Letter to the People of the United Methodist Church."

We applaud their determination to call the church to greater inclusivity and hospitality, especially with regard to its LGBTQ leaders and members, and we commit to stand in solidarity with them from within our own faith traditions, offering our support, encouragement, and ongoing prayers that justice and compassion will win the day.

It is a matter of pride that we note that two of the signatories, Bruce Lamb and Lea Matthews, will be graduation this month with their M.Div degrees from Union, and we urge you and other UMC leaders to welcome them as full colleagues in ministry in good standing.

The New York Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church has had a long and impressive record of justice making for LGBTQ and other persons who have straddled against discrimination, oppression, and various forms of injustice. We urge you to keep the faith and continue the struggle, which is of life-and-death importance not only to the 15 who signed the Open Letter, but to all of us. May gospel values prevail!

With best wishes, and in good faith,

Sincerely,

Rev. Dr. Seth Pickens '06

Rev. Dr. Linda Thomas '81

You can download the full letter here.

 

In addition to this letter, Union released the following public statement applauding the "courage and conviction" of the signers, noting that two Union students are among the signers. The statement reads as follows:

Statement from Union Theological Seminary:

The students of Union Theological Seminary have a long history of standing on the cutting edge of faith and justice work. In this tradition, we applaud the courage and conviction of the 15 United Methodist New York Conference clergy and candidates who last week came out as LGBTQI, including two Union students – Lea Matthews and Bruce Lamb. We recognize that in doing so, they challenge the denomination’s ban on openly gay and lesbian clergy, and we celebrate their living witness and recognize their full compatibility with Christian teaching. We are grateful for all they bring to the church and its many ministries.

We support their future ministry and believe that, through their witness, new generations of leaders will be inspired to proclaim the Gospel in a fully inclusive manner. In a day and age when it seems so hard to find hope, they are beacons of light for the future of the church and the world. Their courage is contagious and they show us that the Gospel is truly grand, indeed big enough to hold us all.

Hundreds of Christian Moms Support LGBTQI Clergy

MIND received the following open letter in response to the Call to declare “We Are!” Open letter to the people of The United Methodist Church from the manager of a large private Facebook group for open minded Christian moms of LGBT kids. The members of the group were very encouraged by this, and sent the following response addressed to the clergy and candidates who signed the Open Letter.

 

May 9, 2016

Dear Clergy and Clergy Candidates in the New York Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church who signed the open letter to the people of The United Methodist Church.

We are a part of a large private Facebook group of more than 1,000 Christian moms of LGBT kids.

Our group was created for Christian moms who have LGBT kids and want to develop and maintain healthy, loving, authentic relationships with their LGBT kids.

More than 250 of us are signing this letter because we want you to know that we support your brave stand for grace and love, and commend you for seeking to follow Christ’s example.

Many of us have left our local faith communities because we no longer found them to be safe places for our family. We understand how difficult it can be to make the kind of public statement you have made. We are very encouraged by your actions and want you to know that we are praying that God will protect, strengthen, guide and bless you.

We believe that your call for the church to fully include, love and accept ALL God’s children truly reflects the idea that Paul put forth in Galatians 5:6 when he wrote “the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” We are forever hopeful that others will follow your wonderful example of faith expressing itself through love.

May God bless you all abundantly!

 

Abby De Fiesta Cortez

Adele Berardi

Alise D Chaffins

Alison Defrese

Allena Brown

Amanda Curtis Dwyer

Amy Hansley Moorehead

Angie Laws

Angie Silver

Anita Jewell Carter Cockrum

Ann Zweckbronner

Barb Cressy

Becky Cantrall

Beth Breems

Bethany Kirwen

Betsy Bruce Henning

Billie Jo Marrs

Bonnie Miranda

Bridget Murphy

Carie Poynor Downes

Carla Iturregui Picasso-Brown

Carla Short Spivey

Carol Beth Wiggins Baswell

Carol Fuss Reed

Carol Mason

Carole Bass

Caroline Williams Joyce

Carolyn Cage Johnston

Carrie Garske Shank

Cassy Taylor Campos

Cathleen Frantzen Schaber

Chasity Davis

Cheri Nill

Cheri Simpson

Cherie Walker

Cheryl Bakkila-Perkins

Chris Behne

Christie Hoos

Cindy Morgan

Colleen Kane

Crista Mason

Cyndi Silva Raugh

Cynthia Corsetti

Dana Huntington-Smith

Danette Mohring

Dawn Bellotti

Dawn Bennett Jones

Dawn Pulley Ervin

Deb Gallagher

Debbie McCullough Hayhurst

Debbie Wasielewski Tavarez

Debby McCrary

Debi Jackson

Debi Tucker Boland

Deborah Carlyle Enman

Dee-Ann Bodenheimer-Enslin

Deena Corwin Pfahler

Deleise Carper Brewer

Denise Ramirez-Tatum

Denise Trainer Webb

Derry Cronin Gleason

Diana Dermit McCarthy

Diane Blevins Smith

Diane Simms

Donna Holmes

Dorene Rose

Doris Wright

Elaine Falk Parker

Frances Lavender

Gena Rogers

Genell Brown

Georgi Persons

Gerry Phifer

Greta Medrano

Gretchen Doornek Mueller

Heather Clevenger

Heather Gee-Thomas

Heather McCracken Bottoms

Irene Gilliland

Jacqueline Rutledge

Jamie Hovland

Jammie Risley Hahn

Jan Pezant

Jan Roberts

Jan Wightman

Jane Clementi

Jane Moody

Janet Phillips

Janine Sarah Moore

Jaron Terry

Jennie Young-Walczyk

Jennifer Dunnam Stringfellow

Jennifer Hancock

Jennifer Schaffner Burkhardt

Jennifer Seeger

Jennifer Stake White

Jerri Surles Collins

Jessica Fahlgren

Jill Spicer

Joani Lea Jack

JoAnn Forsberg

Joann Thompson

Jody Miller Vanderzell

Joy Denton

Judie Brown Gordon

Judith K Volkar

Judy Witzel Harper

Julia Lunardo

Julie Bean Bisgaard

Julie Elliott O'Neal

Julie Greene

Julie Kennedy Eaton

Karen Adams

Karen Decker Kusserow

Kathi Nicholson

Kathryn Zentner

Kathy Green

Kathy Reim

Kathy Renne Post

Katie Jenifer

Katie Willhite Brooks

Katrina Black

Kay Kelley

Kay Otting

Kay Whistler

Kelli Henry Alamond

Kelli Lewis Decker

Kelly Beane

Kelly Rae Holiday

Kim Freeman Weill

Kim Kendall

Kim Lue

Kim McMahon

Kim Sonntag

Kimberly Jones

Kimberlyn Graham

Kori Pavkov

Kristi Kodos

Kristina Gromm

Kyle Jump

Lannette Sargent

Laura Beth Taylor

Laura Sparks Turner

LeAnn Fenner

Lenora Lea Gill

Lesa Edwards-Schepers

Lesley Davis

Leslie Jones Webster

Linda Baker

Linda Ling

Linda Rooney

Linda Slater Tow

Linda Wiebe Dickinson

Linda York O’Connell

Lisa Bray

Lisa Giordano Bontemps

Lisa Golden Dugger

Lisa MacGregor

Lisa Maniscalco Hildebrand

Lisa McCrystal Holley

Lisa Osborne

Lisa Reinhart Hard

Lisa Schramm

Lisa Scott Wofford

Liz Dyer

Loretta Davila

Lori Black Manning

Lori Bradley-Lewis

Lori Love-Wise

Lori Rogers

Lynette Joy

Lynn Kato

Madai Girard

Maleea Shaver Castillo

Mally Shell Hatch

Marcie Castiglione

Margi Wilmans

Margie Candler

Maria Breeden

Marianne Minier Walker

Marjorie Rudolph

Marlene Hoefer Brummond

Marlene Lund

Marsha Ladd

Martha Maust

Marti Parsons Grahl

Mary Estelle Montgomery

Mary Jo Whitley

Mary Kay Weil

Melea Broekers

Meredith Webster Indermaur

Merryl Dietz

Michele Freemyer Grabbe

Michele Manuel Fuselier

Michelle Bradshaw McComb

Millie Donnell

Miriam Pendley

Monica Maday

Monica-Niki Elenbaas

Morven Roberts Baker

Nancy Barron Booher

Nancy MacDonald

Nancy Thompson Flikkema

Nancy Villegas

Nancy Wance

Nichole Byers

Nicole Havlen Hair

Paige Gant

Pam Ensinger Antos

Pam Swendig

Patricia Sjöberg

Patti Atwood Grossman

Patti Mercer Churner

Patti Stratton

Paula Unrau

Pauline Carlson

Pauline Daly

Phyllis Barber

Rachel Drouillard

Rachel Sargent

Rebecca Hedges Lyon

Regina Pitts Woods

Renee Utley Bennink

Rev. Mally Baum

Rhonda Hartzell

Rita Daruvala

Rob Ullinger

Robin Gowan

Robinette Nacca-Cooke

Ʀosaııie Ĺane

Rose Stucchio

Roseanne M. Shannon

Rosemarie Varrichio Campbell

Roxanna Villars Gambrell

S. Anderson

Sandra Cathers

Sandra Van Dyne

Sandy Collins

Sandy McClure

Sara Cunningham

Sara Hoel May

Sarah Mills Holbrook

Sarah Thacker-Estell

Shannon Eaton

Shay Bisbee Haude

Shelley McBride

Sheri Martin

Sondy Eklund

Stacey Frazier

Stacey Jackson Baeumler

Stacy Gouge Drake

Sue Tresatti

Susan Berland

Susan Cloys Seaman

Susan Foss Naranjo-Stultz

Susan Hammontree Fortney

Susan Ledbetter

Susan Metcalf

Susan Wardzinski

Susy Rowe Barnhill

Suzanne Lambert Mann

Tamara Totoro Dick

Tammi Perkins

Tammy Flowers Mejdrich

Tammy Watson

Tammy Wenzinger

Tammy Wylie Barnes

Tamra Jennings

Tana Lightbown Hendricks

Teresa Medlin Poston

Teresa Parker

Teri Stueland Kay

Terri Cook

Terri Nolt

Terri Schempf

Theresa Moore Martinez

Tonda Campbell Hoyt

Tracie Sells

Tricia Johns Baumann

Tricia Kaufman- Waddell

Tricia Willard

Vicki Kemp Whorton

Vicki Westphal

Vicky Barnes

Zaneta Salde Encarnacion

Zenia Robertson

 

Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group created as an extension of the Serendipitydodah blog. The group is secret so that only members can find it or see what is posted in the group. The group was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 1,000 members. The space was specifically created for open minded Christian moms who have LGBT kids and want to develop and maintain healthy, loving, authentic relationships with their LGBT kids. In addition to providing a space for members to share info and support one another, a special guest is added each month for a few days. The guests include authors, pastors, LGBT people, bloggers and public speakers.

For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

Group of LGBTQI Methodist clergy comes out, in defiance of church law

PRESS RELEASE

CONTACT:
Dorothee Benz, 718-314-4432

Group of LGBTQI Methodist Clergy Comes Out,
in Defiance of Church Law

Fifteen members of the New York Conference sign letter, risking credentials

May 2, 2016, New York – In an unprecedented challenge to the United Methodist Church’s discriminatory policies excluding “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” from ministry, 15 UMC clergy and clergy candidates in the New York Annual Conference today released an open letter “to the people of the United Methodist Church” declaring, “We are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer clergy and candidates.” The public announcement is a chargeable offense under UMC law and exposes them to possible church trials, sanctions, and defrocking. While numerous individual clergy and clergy candidates in the denomination have come out in the past, this is the first time a group of ministers have taken action together. The move comes a week before the UMC’s quadrennial General Conference, which is expected to affirm the exclusionary rules amidst anticipated protests.

“The UMC demands that we lie about who we are in order to be in ministry,” the letter explains. “It does violence to our souls. It is the very opposite of the integrity that is foundational to ministry. This demand is fundamentally unjust, and we can no longer be complicit in upholding and reinforcing it. It is premised on a lie, codified in our Book of Discipline – that our lives are ‘incompatible with Christian teaching’ – and it does immense harm both to those whom it forces to harm themselves and to countless others to whom it communicates that there is something wrong with the way God created them.”

Said Rev. Sara Thompson Tweedy, the chair of Methodists in New Directions, which organized the group effort, “To stay silent and to stay closeted is to support our church’s unjust status quo. We cannot do that.” Tweedy faced an official complaint for being a “self-avowed practicing homosexual” in 2013, which was dismissed after 14 months of investigation. “Given the intransigence of General Conference, the only way forward is for us to be the church we hope and pray our beloved denomination will one day become. Transformation of the church comes from below.”

Since 1972, the UMC has declared in its Book of Discipline that homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching.” In subsequent General Conferences, it has added numerous discriminatory rules barring LGBTQI people from serving in ministry, minsters from performing weddings for same-sex couples, and church funds from being used to defend LGBTQI people’s human rights. Additionally, a 2005 UMC Judicial Council decision made it permissible for UMC pastors to bar LGBTQI people from membership in the church.

The UMC General Conference is the only body that can undo this systemic codified discrimination, but that body is dominated by a combination of U.S. and international conservatives that have blocked all efforts at reform for 40 years.

The institutional dead-end for equality advocates in the church has fueled the growth of an ecclesial disobedience movement, drawing inspiration and instruction from civil disobedience tactics and the non-violent resistance philosophy of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. Since 2011, thousands of clergy and lay supporters across the denomination have banded together in annual conference networks to do weddings for all couples on an equal basis, in open defiance of the church’s rules.

Today’s collective action by New York Conference clergy represents the extension of that ecclesial disobedience strategy to the issue of ordination in the UMC.

“I'm inspired and encouraged by my colleagues of the New York Conference for their bold action today,” said Rev. Cynthia Meyer. “I'm grateful that we stand in solidarity together, in obedience to the Gospel, and in the strength of our call to ministry. Authentic, prophetic leadership requires challenging our denomination when it clings to rigid legalism, when it is wrong. The United Methodist Church is wrong when it continues to discriminate against the God's beloved LGBTQI children.” Meyer is currently facing church charges for coming out to her congregation as a lesbian.

Bishop Melvin Talbert expressed a similar sentiment on April 23 when he told Buzzfeed, “I have to make a choice between my church and God, and I am choosing God," referring to his decision to officiate at the wedding of Jim Wilborne and John Romano.

Talbert popularized the phrase “Biblical obedience” for the ecclesial disobedience movement in the UMC. The national Reconciling Ministries Network, with which MIND is affiliated, has started an “It’s Time” campaign in the run-up to General Conference.

The New York clergy letter ends with a call to action to others in the church:

“We call on LGBTQI United Methodist clergy and candidates everywhere to come out and join us in the refusal of further acquiescence to a system that silences and excludes queer people.

“We call on boards of ordained ministry to refuse to discriminate any longer and to publicly declare their refusal.

“We call on bishops to refuse to process complaints against LGBTQI people for being themselves.

“We call on all United Methodists everywhere to refuse their own complicity in our denomination’s systemic oppression of queer people and to protest this injustice at General Conference and elsewhere until it is finally ended.”

 

Board of Ministry Votes Equal Consideration for LGBTQI Candidates

A New Day In the New York Conference!

“The gift of an inclusive community is a gift of God to be embraced and celebrated... The New York Annual Conference declares itself to be the place where LGBTQ persons can find safe space, an arena for the expression of and celebration of their individual gifts in service and ministry, enjoy the blessings of family and marriage, and participate fully, openly, and equally in the full life of the church.”

From Our Vision of a Beloved and Just Community,
Adopted by the New York Annual Conference, June 2014.
Formally endorsed by the Board of Ordained Ministry
of the New York Annual Conference on Saturday, February 20, 2016.

“All persons who seek to glorify God in word and deed and live under the Lordship of Jesus Christ are invited to discern and explore their call toward ordination or licensing in the New York Annual Conference.  Sexual orientation and gender identity are not and will not be considered in the evaluation of candidates by the Board of Ordained Ministry...  Quite simply, discriminating against married persons regardless of the gender of their spouse or against those who hope to be married is not the path we believe God is calling us to walk.”

The Rev. Dr. William B. Pfohl, BOOM Chair, NYAC, March 1, 2016


Methodists in New Directions (MIND), a New York Annual Conference organization working for full inclusion of LGBTQI people in the United Methodist Church, commended their local Board of Ordained Ministry this week for taking the historic action on February 20 of voting as a body to welcome LGBTQI candidates into the ordination process without fear of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.

Toward this end, the Board of Ministry of the New York Annual Conference:

  • Declared that “LGBTQI candidates will be given equal consideration and protection in the candidacy process.”
  • Informed the District Committees on Ordained Ministry who are amendable to the Board of Ministry of these affirmations and instructed them to abide by these guidelines.

MIND responded to the action, saying “It is exciting and deeply gratifying to know that the members of the Board of Ordained Ministry of the New York Conference heard these voices and responded graciously, prophetically, and bravely. MIND commends the NYAC Board of Ordained Ministry and its leaders for their vision and boldness. The action they have taken encourages us all to continue the witness, the dialogue, and the prophetic work that will one day bring about a transformation in the United Methodist Church.”

The full text of the Board of Ordained Ministry announcement is here.

“We are grateful to The New York Annual Conference Board of Ordained Ministry for taking this historic, momentous step to ensure equal treatment for LGBTQ candidates for ministry. I know I speak for many LGBTQI United Methodist pastors who are happy to know that those who come after us will not have to suffer in the silence of the church imposed closet nor will they have to redact the one they love from their autobiographical narratives.”

Rev. Sara Thompson Tweedy
Chairperson, Methodists In New Directions

 

"Finally, the New York Conference Board of Ordained Ministry will assess candidates on the primary basis of their gifts and graces for the ministry of Jesus Christ instead of making heterosexuality its primary, gate-keeping criteria. This decision by the board represents an embrace of Christian gospel values of love and justice over discriminatory practices and prejudice too prevalent elsewhere in our society that can foster bigotry and violence.”

Traci C. West
James W. Pearsall Professor of Christian Ethics and African American Studies
Drew Theological School

 

“I applaud the Board of Ordained Ministry for taking this prophetic step. The church is now truly welcoming all God's beloved children and no longer letting the message be to our LGBTQI brothers and sisters that their relationships aren’t valid, that their call to minister is not of God, and that they cannot be ordained. It's spiritually suffocating to live in the closet. I am thankful that I can now continue to follow God in faith as my full authentic self in the ordination process without having to be in the closet. This is a day of new beginnings.”

Bruce Lamb
Candidate for ordained ministry in the New York Annual Conference

 

"God has been using LGBTQI persons to bless the Church’s ministry, perhaps for longer than we can imagine. The New York Annual Conference Board of Ordained Ministry has opened the closet door for the work of God to flourish with honor. No more will, we, LGBTQI persons have to truncate our testimony, insult our relationships through occlusion, deprive ourselves of the fullness of our humanity in the presence of the people we serve, and be false in our witness. In this decision we have the beginnings of liberation. What a relief to know that this God-blessed constituency can candidate for ministry on equal, standard terms. Thank you NYAC Board of Ordained Ministry. May the wisdom of your decision be emulated within the UMC. Today, I am joyful and profoundly thankful."

Althea Spencer Miller
Asst. Prof. of New Testament Studies, Drew Theological School
Steering Committee Member, Methodists in New Directions

The full text of the 2014 resolution of the New York Annual Conference:

 Our Vision of a Beloved and Just Community:

Whereas, despite institutionalized discrimination in the United Methodist Church against LGBTQ persons and despite punitive actions and threats of further punitive actions by individuals and groups opposed to the full rights of LGBTQ persons in the United Methodist Church, LGBTQ people are finding welcoming communities in the United Methodist Church and in the New York Annual Conference; they are finding clergy, laity and congregations embracing them joyfully as members of the body of Christ, as United Methodists in good standing, and as gifted children of God entitled equally to all the ministries, ceremonies and sacraments of the church; and

Whereas, this welcoming spirit represents the future of the United Methodist Church and brings to life our conference’s decades-long commitment to inclusive ministry; and

Whereas, our ministry as an annual conference is set in a global context where, despite recent dramatic gains in LGBTQ rights in the United States, in many places LGBTQ persons face horrifying persecution, often encouraged by and sanctioned by Christian leaders from the U.S. LGBTQ persons face wide ranging social and legal discrimination. LGBTQ youth are at great risk for bullying, violence, homelessness, family ostracism, sexual abuse, suicide, and poverty. These dimensions of oppression disproportionately affect LGBTQ people of color, who are at the intersection of racial prejudice and prejudice against LGBTQ people; and

Whereas, the grave and continuing harm done to LGBTQ persons is an injustice which the church whose mission is to stand with “the least of these” must actively and passionately oppose; and

Whereas, the gift of an inclusive community is a gift of God to be embraced and celebrated; therefore

Be it resolved, that the New York Annual Conference declares itself to be the place where LGBTQ persons can find safe space, an arena for the expression of and celebration of their individual gifts in service and ministry, enjoy the blessings of family and marriage, and participate fully, openly, and equally in the full life of the church.

Contact:
Scott Summerville
914-980-7176
sumvil@aol.com

Can You Imagine Another Four Years Of Discrimination?

MIND has to be at General Conference in Portland, Oregon from May 10 through 20th when the United Methodist Church delegates gather to write the rules that will govern the church for the next four years. MIND is going so that we can hold the church accountable for discriminatory policies and hopefully prevent the codification of those policies for another four years.

Imagine what another four years will do to transgender youth struggling to find their place in the world and in the church…

Imagine the strain and difficulties placed upon LGBTQ clergy who are forced into a closet because the church does not affirm their committed relationship and is only concerned if two people are “practicing”…

Imagine another four years of ministerial candidates sitting before District Committees on Ministries and Boards of Ordained Ministries wishing they could can be honest about who they are and their call to serve the church…

Imagine another four years of irreparable harm perpetuated against sincerely committed gay and lesbian couples who are turned away from the rite of marriage in the very church that they attend and help to sustain…

Now imagine an inclusive United Methodist Church.

In order to send people to Portland, MIND needs your help. Sending an activist to General Conference for 10 days will cost approximately $1,000 per person. MIND would like to send a delegation of at least ten people. As of today, we have one person paid for! Nine more to go—and we can do this!

Here are ways you can help!

  1. If you can make a donation to MIND to fund activists to attend General Conference please give via this button:

Go to the E-Giving Online Transaction System

  • Please note in description: “MIND GC2016”
  1.  Mail your donation to Asbury United Methodist Church, 167 Scarsdale Rd., Tuckahoe, NY, 10707. Attn: “MIND GC2016”
  2. Organize a fund drive in your congregation to sponsor someone to go to Portland in May.
  3. If you are planning to attend General Conference for any reason and want to work with MIND on the ground, let us know that you are attending.
  4. Share news from MIND about General Conference on social media!
  5. Pray for our MIND activists and for change within the church.
  6. Stay tuned!  We will have much more news in the coming months.

Annual Conference 2015 recap

Annual Conference 2015 Recap 

There are many reasons for MIND to do a victory lap at the conclusion of the 216th Session of the New York Annual Conference. We passed key legislation committing our conference to be “a place of safety, equality, and welcome for LGBTQI lay persons, clergy, candidates for ministry and their families.” Other legislative efforts were successful too, including our petition to General Conference to amend Paragraph 161.F of the Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church. This petition removes all language which would exclude LGB persons from ministry in or with the church.Rev. Dr. Spencer Miller

Revered Dr. Althea Spencer Miller gave an outstanding address to a packed room at MIND’s annual luncheon. She reminded us of the many ways that injustice in the struggle of others must not be allowed to go unchecked. She cautioned us that “any one form of social oppression cannot be overcome in isolation from other forms of oppression.” Her words remind us all that we must not only be committed to LGBTQI justice, but for all those who are marginalized and oppressed.

IMG_7004With all of the good that came out of conference, however, MIND is not running that victory lap.

Get the full story, including much more on Annual Conference petitions, and how some of the worst hate speech we've seen in years was handled, at our full Annual Conference 2015 page here.

Who We Are

MIND is a grassroots organization of United Methodists working to end our denomination’s doctrinal prejudice and institutional discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and committed to living more fully into God’s radical Welcome right now and right here. More about us >>

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