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,
Rev. Dr. Seth Pickens '06
Rev. Dr. Linda Thomas '81
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
Alise D Chaffins
Amanda Curtis Dwyer
Amy Hansley Moorehead
Anita Jewell Carter Cockrum
Betsy Bruce Henning
Billie Jo Marrs
Carie Poynor Downes
Carla Iturregui Picasso-Brown
Carla Short Spivey
Carol Beth Wiggins Baswell
Carol Fuss Reed
Caroline Williams Joyce
Carolyn Cage Johnston
Carrie Garske Shank
Cassy Taylor Campos
Cathleen Frantzen Schaber
Cyndi Silva Raugh
Dawn Bennett Jones
Dawn Pulley Ervin
Debbie McCullough Hayhurst
Debbie Wasielewski Tavarez
Debi Tucker Boland
Deborah Carlyle Enman
Deena Corwin Pfahler
Deleise Carper Brewer
Denise Trainer Webb
Derry Cronin Gleason
Diana Dermit McCarthy
Diane Blevins Smith
Elaine Falk Parker
Gretchen Doornek Mueller
Heather McCracken Bottoms
Jammie Risley Hahn
Janine Sarah Moore
Jennifer Dunnam Stringfellow
Jennifer Schaffner Burkhardt
Jennifer Stake White
Jerri Surles Collins
Joani Lea Jack
Jody Miller Vanderzell
Judie Brown Gordon
Judith K Volkar
Judy Witzel Harper
Julie Bean Bisgaard
Julie Elliott O'Neal
Julie Kennedy Eaton
Karen Decker Kusserow
Kathy Renne Post
Katie Willhite Brooks
Kelli Henry Alamond
Kelli Lewis Decker
Kelly Rae Holiday
Kim Freeman Weill
Laura Beth Taylor
Laura Sparks Turner
Lenora Lea Gill
Leslie Jones Webster
Linda Slater Tow
Linda Wiebe Dickinson
Linda York O’Connell
Lisa Giordano Bontemps
Lisa Golden Dugger
Lisa Maniscalco Hildebrand
Lisa McCrystal Holley
Lisa Reinhart Hard
Lisa Scott Wofford
Lori Black Manning
Maleea Shaver Castillo
Mally Shell Hatch
Marianne Minier Walker
Marlene Hoefer Brummond
Marti Parsons Grahl
Mary Estelle Montgomery
Mary Jo Whitley
Mary Kay Weil
Meredith Webster Indermaur
Michele Freemyer Grabbe
Michele Manuel Fuselier
Michelle Bradshaw McComb
Morven Roberts Baker
Nancy Barron Booher
Nancy Thompson Flikkema
Nicole Havlen Hair
Pam Ensinger Antos
Patti Atwood Grossman
Patti Mercer Churner
Rebecca Hedges Lyon
Regina Pitts Woods
Renee Utley Bennink
Rev. Mally Baum
Roseanne M. Shannon
Rosemarie Varrichio Campbell
Roxanna Villars Gambrell
Sandra Van Dyne
Sara Hoel May
Sarah Mills Holbrook
Shay Bisbee Haude
Stacey Jackson Baeumler
Stacy Gouge Drake
Susan Cloys Seaman
Susan Foss Naranjo-Stultz
Susan Hammontree Fortney
Susy Rowe Barnhill
Suzanne Lambert Mann
Tamara Totoro Dick
Tammy Flowers Mejdrich
Tammy Wylie Barnes
Tana Lightbown Hendricks
Teresa Medlin Poston
Teri Stueland Kay
Theresa Moore Martinez
Tonda Campbell Hoyt
Tricia Johns Baumann
Tricia Kaufman- Waddell
Vicki Kemp Whorton
Zaneta Salde Encarnacion
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 email@example.com
Group of LGBTQI Methodist clergy comes out, in defiance of church law
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!
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.”
“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.”
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.
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!
- If you can make a donation to MIND to fund activists to attend General Conference please give via this button:
- Please note in description: “MIND GC2016”
- Mail your donation to Asbury United Methodist Church, 167 Scarsdale Rd., Tuckahoe, NY, 10707. Attn: “MIND GC2016”
- Organize a fund drive in your congregation to sponsor someone to go to Portland in May.
- 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.
- Share news from MIND about General Conference on social media!
- Pray for our MIND activists and for change within the church.
- 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.
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.
With 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 >>
MIND is a membership organization. Becoming a MIND member is one way that every one of us can witness to God’s Welcome, a way we let people know—our bishop, our conference leadership, other churches and most of all LGBT people who are wondering whether they can find a church home through our doors—that God welcomes everyone and so should we. Join us today >>