Our baptismal vows state that we “accept the freedom and power God gives [us] to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.” While we are grateful for the time and effort of those who worked on the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation, we must at the same time acknowledge and resist the injustice and oppression embedded within it.
Some feel relieved and even hopeful about the Protocol. The possibility of being free from the mean-spirited discrimination of the WCA (Wesleyan Covenant Association) is alluring, as is the possibility of seeing the anti-LGBTQIA language removed from the Book of Discipline.
It’s important to remember that at the moment these possibilities remain just that: possibilities. Nothing has been decided yet, and the legislation related to the Protocol was released only today. The Protocol was developed in secrecy, and important details and questions remain unknown. This lack of transparency and shared power is one element of oppression. Another is the lack of POC+Q+T (people of color + Queer + trans) representation in the development of the Protocol. Still another injustice is the inequity of funding. Why is the WCA being paid so handsomely for holding the UMC hostage for decades, without being required to engage in repentance?
MIND has not endorsed the Protocol. Once we have reviewed the legislation, we can say more. In the meantime, however, we issue a clarion call to remain focused on the work ahead. Regardless of what happens to the United Methodist Church, we must attend to the sacred calling to dismantle racism, sexism, heterosexism, transphobia, classism, ableism, and colonialism.
We offer the following guiding principles as we navigate our way forward:
Embrace pastoral concern and advocacy, particularly for those whose very identities and lives are threatened by church-sanctioned heterosexism and transphobia.
Reject false equivalency, ie, “both sides are hurting.”
Embrace naming harm and discrimination; unmasking bigotry cloaked in piety, theology, or biblical interpretation.
Reject value-neutral tolerance. Falsely framing church-sanctioned prejudice as a mere difference of opinion between two parties with equal power and access.
Embrace an organized Queer presence in places of decision-making, undergirded by movement values and pastoral support.
Reject tokenization and isolation of Queer voices.
Embrace liberative relationality as both a goal and the means to achieve that goal.
Reject imposed categorization, ie, Conservative-Moderate-Liberal, or Traditionalist-Centrist-Progressive.
Embrace informed intersectionality as both a goal and the means to achieve that goal.
Reject a zero-sum game approach that frames racism, sexism, ableism, classism, ageism, heterosexism, and transphobia as competing agendas; divide and conquer dynamics.
Embrace unwavering commitment to gospel liberation for all and authentic Christian community.
Reject institutionalism. Seeking hope and salvation in legislation and back-room deals.
Embrace calling out publicly accountable leaders when they fail in word or deed to support the most marginalized; “calling in” those with whom we are in relationship when we see an opportunity to offer loving education, correction or guidance.
Reject shaming and blaming; placing ideological purity over pastoral concern.
Embrace following the example of Jesus by actively seeking and nurturing unheard voices. Bringing into community those who have not yet been invited to the table.
Reject status quo conversation, leadership, and voices.