Ministry to the marginalized: Welcoming LGBT people into NYAC

Resolution for the 2011 New York Annual Conference

Background information on this resolution can here found here.

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; anti-gay bullying in our schools is epidemic, 85% of LGBT students report harassment because of their sexual orientation and 40% have been physically assaulted; 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 fuel 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 the discriminatory parts of UMC policy on homosexuality and welcome and invite LGBT people to worship in NYAC churches; and be it further

Resolved, that the following shall be the text used in the advertisements:

The New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist church welcomes ALL God’s children, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

We want members of LGBT communities to know that we do not share our denomination’s belief that “homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” and we are deeply sorry for the harm that this belief has caused. We are working within the UMC to change its prejudiced policies.

We invite you to join us!

Resolved, that the ads shall be placed in publications that span the conference’s geographic jurisdiction, with the following publications recommended: the New York City Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center’s 2012 annual Pride Guide; the LOFT’s CNEWS newsletter; the Long Island GLBT Community Center’s Business Directory; the Hudson Valley LGBT Community Center’s Business Directory; the Triangle Community Center’s News and Views newsletter; Next Magazine; and Go Magazine.

Resolved, that the oversight and responsibility for seeing through the placement of these advertisements shall be handled by a committee constituted for this purpose and consisting of the following: one person from the New York Annual Conference, appointed by the bishop; one person from the Conference Board of Church and Society, appointed by the chair of the CBCS; one person from Methodists in New Directions, appointed by the chair of MIND; these appointments shall be made no later than September 2011 and this committee shall meet no later than September 2011;

Resolved, that no conference funds shall be involved in the production, promotion or placement of these advertisements and these advertisements be entirely paid for through voluntary contributions to be received by MIND.

Passed June 10, 2011