An Open Letter to the UMC from the United Methodist Queer Clergy Caucus      April 16, 2017, Easter Sunday

Dear United Methodist Church,

In a week, our Judicial Council will be called into session to decide on the worthiness of the ministries and lives of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Questioning and Intersex (LGBTQI) clergy persons who have been examined, voted upon, and overwhelmingly affirmed by faithful United Methodist clergy and laity. These cases stem from questions of legality and briefs filed after the licensing, commissioning, and ordination of queer clergy in New York Annual Conference, Northern Illinois Annual Conference, and the consecration of Bishop Karen Oliveto. We, your LGBTQI clergy, write to you before their session begins to respond in love to this harm.

We, as the community of queer clergy that represent over 170 persons in 26 annual conferences, stand together: we are all one body and one church. Together we affirm and are proud of our denomination's core beliefs and mission. We are deeply committed to introducing new people to the Way of Jesus, challenging all people (ourselves included) to grow in holiness and justice, and taking missional risks for the Gospel. While these questions, briefs and complaints are filed against some LGBTQI individuals, we consider them to be against all of us. These actions can also be considered as a general attack on the evangelism, discipleship, and mission potential of the United Methodist movement. They are hurtful to us, and they are hurtful to the whole Church. We write on behalf of our full queer clergy connection, acknowledging all those who identify as LGBTQI within and beyond our denomination who feel rejected and alienated from the church, a place purported to be the epicenter of Christ’s radical, unconditional, and unbounded love.

As a guiding principle of our Wesleyan tradition, we value and hold ourselves to do no harm. These briefs, along with complaints and charges filed against LGBTQI persons based solely on one’s sexual orientation and gender identity, are harmful. They not only fracture the body of Christ and dehumanize LGBTQI persons, but do harm to Creation, preventing a path to God’s “more excellent way” of love (1 Corinthians 12:31). These words and actions should be considered divisive by our ecclesiastical leaders and bodies. Hateful and narrow language, such as “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” does not define our sacred selves. These cases use our beloved families as weapons against us and reduce our loving relationships to sexual acts. They also drive seekers of Christ away and distract from our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. We lead truthful, full and loving lives, some of us in relationships with cherished partners and spouses. We are mothers, fathers, siblings, children, and grandchildren. We are all ministers, who have been called by God, certified as candidates, licensed, commissioned and/or ordained, and consecrated.

We respond to God’s Great Commission to proclaim the good news to all people, and we intend to live into the reality of the beautiful, bold, diverse, and inclusive Body of Christ. We uphold our denomination’s call to inclusiveness. “Inclusiveness means openness, acceptance, and support that enables all persons to participate in the life of the church, the community, and the world; therefore, inclusiveness denies every semblance of discrimination” (¶ 140 Book of Discipline). In following that vision and God’s call in our own lives, we answer to a higher authority than earthly institutional power and will not accept unjust laws when they run contrary to the Gospel.

We stand firm in our baptismal vows “to confess Jesus as [our] Saviour [and] put [our] whole trust in his grace” and “..to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.” With humility and courage, we commit ourselves to Christ’s command that we love God and love one another.

We stand in support of every clergy person threatened by unjust actions, and our sibling, Bishop Karen Oliveto, as her standing is being challenged before the Judicial Council. Bishop Oliveto’s election is a visible demonstration of what is possible within The United Methodist Church when the gifts, graces, and call to ministry of LGBTQI persons are recognized and fully valued. We pray that the Judicial Council upholds clergy/episcopal fair process protections and our right to trial.

Whatever determinations are made by the upcoming Judicial Council, we will continue to run with perseverance the race set before us, looking to Christ, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2). We continue to hold our entire United Methodist Connection in prayer, seeking God’s grace and wisdom in the coming days.

Your siblings in Christ,

United Methodist Queer Clergy Caucus                                                                                                           Representing over 170 persons in 26 Annual Conferences (including our Hidden Faithful siblings)

UMQCC Open Letter Signatories:

Rev. Jeanelle Nicolas Ablola
Rev. Brian Adkins
Rev. Austin Adkinson
Rev. Dr. Israel I. Alvaran
Rev. Elyse Ambrose
Rev. Douglas A. Asbury
M Barclay
Pastor Denyse Barnes
Rev. Bonnie Beckonchrist
Rev. Ann E. Berney
Rev. Rachel Birkhahn-Rommelfanger
Rev. Anna Blaedel
Rev. Daryl Blanksma
Rev. Jan Bolerjack
Rev. Thomas R. Boller
Rev. Elizabeth Brick
Rev. Tony Brown
Rev. Kristan Burkert
Rev. John Cahall
Rev. Dr. Joanne Carlson Brown
Rev. Dana Carroll
Rev. Jim Carter
Rev. Ronna Case
Rev. Karen Cook
Angie Cox
Rev. Britt Cox
Rev. Karen Dammann
Rev. Randa D'Aoust
Rev. Jani Darak-Druck
Rev. Alex da Silva Souto
Pastor Sean Delmore
Rev. Amy E. DeLong
Rev. Dr. James A. Dwyer
Rev. Greg Eaton
Rev. Dr. Janet Everhart
Rev. Renae Extrum-Fernandez
Rev. Anthony Fatta
Pastor Alexis Francisco
Rev. Rock Fremont
Micah Gary-Fryer
Rev. Ruth Ann Charlotte Geiger
Rev. Nestor S. Gerente
Rev. Sandy Gess
Rev. John Girard
Rev. Becca Girrell
Pastor Kaiyra Greer
Rev. John Edwin Griffin-Atil
Rev. Gregory D. Gross
Pastor Taylor Gould
Rev. Nancy Goyings
Rev. Will Ed Green
Rev. Dr. Emily B. Hall
Rev. Trey Hall
Rev. Dr. Edward J. Hansen
Rev. Janet Hanson
Rev. Marcia Hauer
Pastor Ashley Hawkins
Rev. Michael A. House
Rev. Betty J. Howard
Rev. Ann Hunt
Rev. Brittany Isaac
Peter Jabin
Rev. Dr. David Jenkins
Rev. Marguerite K. Jhonson
Rev. C. Michele Johns
Jacey Johnson
Rev. Elizabeth Jones
Rev. Lindsey Kerr
Rev. Dr. Jeanne Gayle Knepper
Rev. Katie Ladd
Rev. Bruce Lamb
Rev. Sue Laurie
Rev. Ardis Letey
Rev. Dan Lewis
Rev. Fred Lewis
Rev. Samantha Lewis
Rev. Dr. Pamela R. Lightsey
Pastor Christine Lindeberg
Pastor Rolly Loomis
Rev. Kelly Love
Adam Marshall
Rev. Dr. Joretta L. Marshall
Rev. Lea A. Matthews
Rev. Lois McCullen Parr
Rev. Courtney McHill
Rev. Ralph A. Merante
Rev. David. W. Meredith
Rev. Cynthia S. Meyer
Pastor Kathleen Meyerson
Rev. Jerry M. Miller
Katelyn Miller
Rev. Sharon L. Moe
Rev. Dr. Richard W. Moman
Rev. Deborah Morgan
Rev. Jeffrey S. Mullinix
Rev. Rachel Neer
Rev. Joshua M. Noblitt
Rev. Catherine Noellert
Rev. Gregory Norton
Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker
Rev. Matthew Alexander Pearson
Rev. Drew Phoenix
Emily Pickens-Jones
Rev. Jay K. Pierce
Rev. Jeanne Audrey Powers
Kendall Protzmann
Pastor Kathleen Reynolds
Pastor Jonathan Rodríguez-Cintrón
Rev. Maggie Roe
Rev. Daniel Sailer
Rev. Siobhan Sargent
Kenneth Schoon
Rev. Tyler Schwaller
Pastor Kimberly Scott
Pastor Ryan J. Scott
Rev. Patricia Simpson
Rev. Kim Smith
Rev. Dr. Althea Spencer Miller
Rev. Nea Stepp
Rev. Terri Stewart
Rev. Katie Stickney
Rev. Kristin Stoneking
Pastor Charles Straight
Rev. Mark Sturgess
Grant Swanson
Rev. Sara Thompson Tweedy
Rev. Ronald D. Tompkins
Rev. Adrienne Trevathan
Rev. Dr. Frank E. Trotter, Jr.
Dr. Joan Van Dessel
Rev. Martha E. Vink
Anna Voinovich
Rev. Vivian Ruth Waltz
Rev. Kathleen Weber
Rev. Dr. David Weekley
Rev. Judy WestLee
Jennifer Weyenberg
Rev. Jay Williams
Rev. Dr. Mark Williams
Rev. Brenda S. Wills
Rev. Jarell Wilson
Rev. John R. Wooden
Rev. Vicki Woods
Rev. Wendy Joy Woodworth
Rev. Frank D. Wulf
Rev. Laura Young
Rev. Nancy Kay Yount

Additional Signatories (after April 16, 2017) 

Rev. Thomas P. Carney
Rev. Mark Thompson
T.C. Morrow
Rev. Joey Heath-Mason