Three denominations who have already achieved a level of LGBTQ equality within their traditions have written letters in support of The United Methodist Church during its General Conference as we discuss LGBTQ inclusion as well.
Here they are:
The Episcopal Church, Oregon Diocese
Letter from members of the Oregon Diocese of The Episcopal Church:
Clergy and members of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Oregon welcome our brothers and sisters in The United Methodist Church as you gather in Portland for your 2016 General Conference. As your denomination gathers to celebrate and discern God’s will for you, particularly around questions of human sexuality, we will be holding you in prayer.
Episcopalians in Oregon are eager to share our experience of extending a full and unequivocal welcome to those who experience gender and sexual diversity. Our conversations around gender and sexuality – like yours – have not been without much pain and struggle, but we believe that the Spirit of God has brought us to a holy place in which the gifts of all people are being utilized by the church in creative and exciting ways. Our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender clergy are God’s gift to the church. Welcoming all people in God’s name has strengthened our congregations and made us healthier, more honest, and more vital communities of faith. Extending the sacrament of holy matrimony to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters have been occasions of great joy and celebration: opportunities to bear witness to the depth and breadth of God’s expansive love for all people.
We believe God has called our church into an evangelistic opportunity: a good word to share with a culture desperate for Christ’s healing and wholeness. We invite you to join us in proclaiming this good news of Jesus to a world that desperately needs to hear something more than tolerance: we seek a world in which all people are loved and embraced in Jesus’ name, and we commit to holding you in prayer as you engage in discernment around how you will respond to the Spirit’s call.
We value our relationship with members of The United Methodist Church and commit to continue walking alongside you as together we minister to a hurting world.
The above statement has been signed by 75 members of the clergy of the Diocese of Oregon.
The United Church of Christ
The national officers wrote a letter on behalf of the UCC:
An Open Letter to Our Brothers and Sisters in The United Methodist Church
As colleagues in faith and as companions on the journey to heed God’s Call, we the national officers of the United Church of Christ are praying with you as you gather in Portland for General Conference to discern God’s intention for a Beloved Community where all are welcome.
We stand with those faithful LGBT clergy who dare to honor God by unashamedly declaring, as scripture affirms, all of human creation to be “very good” and who unapologetically seek to serve the church with all the gifts and graces of their whole selves.
We hold in loving care the courageous clergy and lay gathering to commit to the sacred work of dismantling religious traditions that threaten our unity as one body.
Thanks be to God for the testimonies, present in both texts and time, reminding us of our past struggles to see and hear God clearly.
We witness in biblical stories, conversations that reflect the challenge of the early church to embrace the inclusiveness of Gentiles.
We witness, through the history of race and the church, a complex journey toward understanding the imago dei imbued in varying hues.
It has only been during the 20th century that preaching women were affirmed through ordination in many denominations. What seemed to be a theological impasse has now been overcome not only with ordination, but, within several denominations including the United Methodist Church, we have lived to witness women elevated to the Episcopacy.
Indeed, this Call to faithfulness in the church requires us to listen deeply and rest in the assurance of that great cloud of witnesses to the ever-present power of the Spirit that stretches us to new depths of understanding when we dare to believe.
We stand and pray with you all, in great anticipation of the still speaking God who has accompanied us on this journey so many times before. And we trust that the Spirit will once again move upon the church that we may all be one.
Society of Friends, New England
Letter from the Quakers (Society of Friends) in New England:
We greet you on behalf of the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, the first denominational body of congregations of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) founded in North America. Our story as a diverse community of faith includes painful division as well as joyful reunion. As members with you in the same family of those who seek to participate in the justice, healing, and liberation announced through Jesus’ ministry, we send our love and support. As you conclude your time together in Portland, know that you are not alone. Beyond this accompaniment, what we have to offer is nothing but our testimony to God’s work among us.
In recent years our own congregations have wrestled alongside the wider Church with how we might together find right relationship among gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and straight members of our communities. The road has not been easy for any of us. What we have come to see clearly, and what we extend to you in love, is our witness that God affirms the full humanity, worth, and service of each and every person, even when we cannot see how it is that we are to proceed together, even in the knowledge that painful divisions remain.
Our experience and prayerful discernment confirms that all are equal before God, just as God made us. We are called to seek a way forward for our faith communities so that people of all genders, sexual orientations, races, classes, ethnicities and abilities have the opportunity to be both present and celebrated in their authenticity. The small steps we have taken on this journey have borne the fruits of a growing sense of God’s wholeness in our common life and ministry. Without the gifts of each precious one, we are less than whole.
We write to lift up in tender prayer those who have had accusation laid upon them and those who have laid such accusation. We write as a prayer in the presence of the Spirit of God that can yet lead us into all truth. We write in support of those wounded and those with courage to continue. We write in hope that you will watch your hearts and watch over one another as the children of God that you are.
We give thanks that God gathers many to form one body; each one of us belongs to all the others. Know that you have Friends in New England holding you in prayer, our hearts joined with you in the broken-hearted but still unbroken unity of the Holy Spirit, as you labor together in discernment today and in the time to come.
I’m thankful for other denominations caring about what happens in The UMC, and their encouragement that all will be well when The UMC gets on the right side of history and of God’s inclusive reign on earth.