We do! Methodists Living Marriage Equality

We do! Methodists Living Marriage Equality, a project sponsored by MIND and co-sponsored by MFSA, is an organized, conference-wide project to make weddings available on an equal basis to all people in the New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church through a network of individuals and congregations publicly pledged to offer weddings on a non-discriminatory basis. There are 1,290 signers on A Covenant of Conscience, the cornerstone of initiative: 222 clergy members, 1,068 lay people from over 100 congregations, and seven entire congregations.

After two years of planning, after a year of organizing and gathering signers on the Covenant of Conscience and months of intense preparations, we launched We do! Methodists Living Marriage Equality on October 17, 2011. On that day we published the names of all the signers of the covenant, we sent out press releases to media outlets and sending emails to LGBT groups in New York and Connecticut with this message: “We want our friends in the LGBT community to know that we celebrate the diversity of God’s creation and we joyfully extend our ministry to all couples who want to get married in the United Methodist Church.” MIND members are stopping by LGBT communities centers throughout our geographic jurisdiction to introduce themselves and the project, and to leave We do! flyers and palm cards for members of the community to pick up.

We do! is rooted in a pastoral commitment to minister to all people in our annual conference. We refuse to discriminate against any of God’s children. We refuse to any longer be complicit in the UMC’s discrimination. We refuse to carry out the mandate to discriminate against some of the people in our pews and in our communities.

Instead we are reaching out directly to LGBT people in our communities to let them know they can get married in the United Methodist Church.

Please help spread the word

Contact local LGBT groups in your area. Post the flyer in public spaces. Leave stacks of the palm cards in bookstores, cafes, bars. Talk about it in your congregation.

Resources for the covenant community

The success of the We do! project depends on our collective effort and the bigger our network the more able we will be to truly make marriage equality a lived reality within the New York Annual Conference. We are continuing to add signers to A Covenant of Conscience so that our community continues to grow.

Please continue to ask new people to sign. Check out the “Why we signed” testimonials on the website, and offer your own story to those you talk to. You can also use this flyer to ask people to sign. For those willing to take the next step and organize their churches to become congregational signers, we have an organizer’s manual available, and can hook you up with the churches that already went through the process to share their experiences.

We also have a Legal Handbook for clergy that explains the church’s legal structures, and we have formed a Response Team that will be immediately available to any clergy person who is faced with charges or threats as a result of their fulfillment of the covenant. The Response Team has legal and strategic expertise and will act as a bridge back to the entire Covenant of Conscience community so that the resources and solidarity of the whole community are there for any individual member who needs them. Send us a note if you’d like a copy of the Legal Handbook or you need to contact the Response Team. We also have a Legal Team that is monitoring cases throughout the country and continuously deepening their own knowledge of the Book of Discipline, administrative and judicial processes and Judicial Council precedents, as well as a Spiritual Care Team that is available for short-term counseling to anyone who has been harmed for their advocacy on behalf of LGBT people. Let us know if you would like someone from the Spiritual Care Team to contact you.

Background information

We do! is rooted in a commitment to pastoral care and grew out of the urgent desire to find ways to transcend the crippling constraints current UMC policy places on those seeking to provide pastoral care to all their congregants. Its introduction in September 2010 was the product of nine months of discussion and discernment within MIND and MFSA. It builds on past work that MIND has done to further the goal of marriage equality, including the open letter on marriage equality and the Ministering to all in Covenantal Relationships resolution passed at the 2010 annual conference.

We do! has helped fuel a new pastoral movement throughout the UMC to transcend the discriminatory rules of the church and to simply extend our ministries to all people. Read about the growing movement here>>s.