God Honors all Covenantal Relationships – Why Not the Church?
An Open Letter to the United Methodist Church
from members of the New York Annual Conference
Marriage is an important covenantal relationship recognized and supported by the church, but in its doctrine and policies the United Methodist Church wrongly excludes lesbian and gay people from this recognition and support.
Wherever people come together to grow as people of faith, God gives recognition and support. What matters to God is not who comes together, but why. The Gospel proclaims an unrelenting message of welcome in God’s kingdom for the unexpected, the outcast, the marginalized. And yet the United Methodist Church denies gay and lesbian people the right to marry in God’s name. The Church must aspire to God’s extravagant welcome.
In 2007, the New York Annual Conference adopted a resolution to support the call for same-sex marriage. The Book of Discipline, the sum total of United Methodist policies, states “Certain basic human rights and civil liberties are due all persons. We are committed to supporting those rights and liberties for homosexual persons” (162H) and “…sexuality is God’s good gift to all persons. We believe persons may be fully human only when that gift is acknowledged and affirmed by themselves, the church, and society” (161G), yet gay and lesbian members cannot be married in our churches or by our ministers. This inequality is wrong, unjust, ungodly and unacceptable. Therefore:
We call on our Bishop and all Bishops to speak in bold prophetic voices of the expanse of God’s welcome and to refuse to tolerate discrimination in their conferences.
We call on our General Conference delegates and all General Conference delegates to actively advocate and work for the adoption of legislation that overturns church policies that compel inequality in marriage rights.
We call on our clergy to put aside societal prejudice and boldly manifest God’s welcome for their gay and lesbian congregants, as they do all congregants; and to lead their congregations into recognition that we are each complicit in the church’s discrimination whenever we are not actively engaged in dismantling it.
We call on members of the New York Annual Conference and all United Methodists to refuse to accept a segregated Church; to find faithful ways to withdraw their complicity in the church’s unequal treatment of its gay and straight members; and to work tirelessly to bring about that day when the church finally reflects God’s radical inclusivity.
Jesus acted with bravery and faith, even in moments of great turmoil. We call on each other to sustain our faith and pray for God’s grace and love to embolden us as we work to make our church a church for all God’s people.