GC 2019 – A View From the Halfway Point

by Rev. Jeff Wells
Church of the Village
New York, NY

At a conference called specifically to address the place of LGBTQI persons in the UMC, already on Saturday, February 23, there was great spiritual harm done as an entire morning went by—on what was publicized as a day of prayer and worship—without a single expression of prayer for or even mention of LGBTQI persons. Only when some of our New York delegates and others expressed their pain and outrage was this corrected to a small extent at the beginning of the afternoon session.

This turned out to be only a minor precursor for what would come.

February 24, 2019 was a very dark day in the history of the United Methodist Church. The Modified Traditional Plan – which would seek to rapidly expel pastors and bishops who do not abide by its hateful, homophobic, and discriminatory rules – garnered the most votes of the four potential plans in the “priority” voting by delegates.

While there is much legislative work yet to be done, this is a very bad sign for the future of the UMC. Should the Traditional Plan pass in the next two days, it would mean the end of the UMC as we know it. In fact, the UMC would remain “Methodist” in name only, since this plan and its backers have no relationship to the Methodism espoused by John and Charles Wesley. It would overturn many of the most precious aspects of both Jesus’ teachings and Wesleyan theology and practice, including: valuing theological diversity, affirming a strong connection between personal holiness and social justice, emphasizing grace and mercy over harsh judgment, a foundational focus on love over the law, and the proclamation that every person is a beloved child of God. Should this occur, I am confident that Methodism would live on in a variety of loving, inclusive expressions, but it would no longer be found inside of the United Methodist Church.

I implore you to continue to pray with all your might, for all of the delegates and other representatives here in St. Louis, for Bishop Bickerton, and in particular for all of our queer siblings who are feeling the shock of this day. Pray for the Holy Spirit to be powerfully present on Monday and Tuesday.

May God’s Spirit of love and justice break open hardened hearts and closed minds and help us make a different outcome possible.

Fulfilling the NYAC Commitment to Queer Voices at GC 2019

In 2017 New York Annual Conference overwhelmingly endorsed the concept that there must be Queer voices at the 2019 Special General Conference. Very few annual conferences will have delegations embodying the concept, making the elections in our annual conference especially significant. With this in mind, we share with you a declaration and an offering by a diverse group of Queer laity and clergy and allies who feel called to this ministry of witness and have expressed their willingness, if elected, to serve as delegates or alternates to General Conference. This group is not a “slate.” These are individuals with a common commitment consistent with the goals set out by the 2017 New York Annual Conference.

 A way forward that centers the marginalized

 

For those attending NYAC 2018, ID Numbers for Candidates Are Listed Below: 

CLERGY CANDIDATES

LGBTQI

Rev. Kristina Hansen                       ID # 221

Rev. Alex da Silva Souto                 ID # 121

Rev. Martha E. Vink                         ID # 593

Rev. Dr. Sara Thompson Tweedy    ID # 575

 

Allies

Rev. Vicki Flippin                     ID # 172

Rev. Sheila M. Beckford          ID # 039

Rev. Wongee Joh                    ID # 267

Rev. Paul Fleck                       ID # 170

 

LAY CANDIDATES

LGBTQI

Jorge Lockward                   ID # 9

Dr. Dorothee Benz               ID # 1

Karen G. Prudente               ID # 10

QuiShaun D. Hill                  ID # 7

Ann Craig                            ID # 3

Allies

Tiffany French-Goffe           ID # 6

Fred Brewington                 ID # 2

Daisy Tavarez                    ID # 12

Get more info and full bios at https://www.withnotabout.org/

Click here to learn why we’re running… and asking for your support.

We are being faithful to the mandate from the 2017 annual conference, which voted to urge the conference to elect a majority-LGBTQI slate for the special GC, whose express and sole purpose is to address the impasse in the church over how we treat LGBTQI people.

This group represents many decades of faithful service and leadership in the UMC and our conference. It specifically includes deep GC expertise (seven people with direct delegation experience and multiple others who have attended many GCs) and additional significant legal/legislative/Judicial Council/Discipline expertise.

It reflects the diversity of the conference and our understanding of interconnectedness of oppressive systems. It is specifically and intentionally majority people of color, and committed to the unfinished work of racial justice in the UMC.

Above all, it is a chance for NYAC to live into its legacy of opposition to the UMC’s systemic exclusion of LGBTQI people. It is a chance to give queer people agency and voice in a way that they quite literally have never had in our denomination.

We want this delegation and this GC to be different, and that includes inviting in everyone who wants to help to participate in our process and to join us if they can in St. Louis. There is room at our table for all and for everyone’s gifts, and we need everyone’s gifts.