Letter to clergy

June 2, 2008

Dear Colleague,

We are writing to ask you to prayerfully consider wearing the enclosed armband during the ordination ceremony this year at annual conference, on June 14.

As you know from previous years, the armbands are a reconciling witness against the continuing exclusion of lesbian and gay people from ordination by the United Methodist Church. They are blue to symbolize tears: tears of joy as we celebrate with those being ordained, and tears of sorrow as we mourn with those who are also called by God but rejected by the church. They are part of the effort to find faithful and appropriate ways to witness against the injustice of the church’s exclusion. They are a sacred expression of hope, part of the sacred space of ordination, gentle, prophetic and clear.

The New York Annual Conference is a strong reconciling conference. Across the board – on the issues of ordination, marriage, membership, civil rights, underlying doctrine and theology – NYAC resolutions and petitions have affirmed our belief that the church should be open to LGBT people in all ways. We have stood in firm, explicit and consistent opposition to the United Methodist Book of Discipline’s exclusionary doctrine and policies. At last month’s General Conference, as in General Conferences past, that conviction was evident in many ways, most powerfully in Fred Brewington’s plenary speech on the proposed changes to the Discipline’s language on human sexuality. Our call to inclusive ministry is documented in the attached history that Methodists in New Directions (MIND) researched and compiled earlier this year.

Yet despite this longstanding commitment to inclusive ministry, the promise of “affirming the full participation of lesbians and gay men” in the conference remains unfulfilled. As people called to mirror God’s extravagant welcome in our own lives, we are compelled to respond. It’s clear that somehow we must find stronger ways to bring the words off the pages of our resolutions and into our congregations, into the daily work of the conference, into the lives of God’s LGBT children.

And into our annual conference meeting and the ordination ceremony that is its culmination. Wearing the armband is one way to do that, one way that we can visibly demonstrate what we have affirmed so many times in conferences past: that ours is a conference that welcomes all of God’s children. We hope you will join us in this important witness.

Yours in Christ,

Rev. John A. Carr, First and Summerfield

Rev. Hector Laporta, Church of the Village

Rev. Richard S. Parker, Babylon

Rev. Scott Summerville, Asbury-Crestwood

Rev. Dr. Traci West, Drew University