Ministry to the marginalized: welcoming LGBT people into NYAC

Resolution for the 2010 New York Annual Conference

Whereas, Jesus lifted up the poor, welcomed women into his ministry, healed lepers, overturned the tables in the temple and was executed as a threat to religious and governmental authorities; he invited the outcast and the marginalized into God’s kingdom and his ministry challenged the social norms of his day; and his call for us to follow him compels us to do the same; and

Whereas, the church therefore has a special obligation to welcome and defend those on the margins of our own society and to work for equality and justice for them; these include the poor, immigrants, people of color, people of non-Christian faiths, people with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people; and we have a particular obligation to fight for those singled out by our own denomination for discrimination, lesbian and gay people; and

Whereas, the UMC continues to lose members every year and a part of that decline can be traced to its prejudicial policies and pronouncements on homosexuality, which are offensive particularly to young people and which many rightly perceive as hypocritical from an organization that professes to follow Jesus; and

Whereas, LGBT people face significant hostility, discrimination, threats and violence in our society; there are over 1,000 documented hate crimes against LGBT people every year; 29 LGBT people were murdered because of their sexual orientation or gender expression in 2008 (the last year for which statistics are available); anti-gay bullying in our schools is epidemic, 91% of LGBT middle-school students report harassment because of their sexual orientation, 39% have been assaulted and 63% have heard school staff make homophobic remarks; 25-40% of homeless youth are LGBT; and the suicide rate among LGBT teens is two to three times the rate of suicide among other youth; and

Whereas, the UMC’s and other Christian churches’ own anti-gay positions and policies excuse and condone bias against LGBT people and the church must bear responsibility for contributing to the violence against LGBT people; and

Whereas, Christians become complicit in the physical and spiritual violence suffered by LGBT people when they do not speak out against their church’s prejudice against LGBT people; and

Whereas, the vast majority of LGBT people think that Christianity is a homophobic religion and do not feel welcome in Christian churches; and

Whereas, no amount of advertising inviting people to “rethink church” will change the perception of Methodism as homophobic if it is not accompanied by an explicit repudiation of the UMC’s prejudice and discrimination; and

Whereas, the New York Annual Conference has stood in firm, consistent and persistent opposition to the UMC’s prejudice and discrimination against gay and lesbian people for over three decades; therefore be it

Resolved, that the New York Annual Conference advertise in New York and Connecticut LGBT publications and express in these advertisements its heartfelt regret for the harm inflicted on LGBT people through the UMC’s homophobia and discrimination, and further share in these advertisements that NYAC has long been opposed to UMC policy on homosexuality and welcome and invite LGBT people to worship in NYAC churches; and be it further

Resolved, that these advertisements be paid for through voluntary contributions  to be received by Methodists in New Directions (MIND); and be it further

Resolved, that the wording and placement of these advertisements be the responsibility of Methodists in New Directions.

As amended on the conference floor June 11, 2010, and ruled out of order by Bishop Park. The ruling was challenged by MIND, sending the case before the Judiicial Council. The Council declinded to take a stand. MIND reintroduced a modified version of the resolution in 2011, which was passed by the annual conference on June 10, 2011.  More here  on the 2010 resolution and the subsequent Judicial Council case>>