UMQCC Response to Judicial Council 1017 Decisions
28 October 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Rev. Alex da Silva Souto <email@example.com> 415-706-5397
Rev. Lois McCullen Parr <firstname.lastname@example.org> 224-436-0769
On the heels of its leadership team meeting in which the United Methodist Queer Clergy Caucus (UMQCC) named its core values and vision for the Church, the LGBTQAI+ clergy this week established a full agenda to reach across the denominational connection to work toward a fully just and vibrant future.
“As trained clergy, our theological, biblical, spiritual and Wesleyan grounding gives us the location to be pastoral, to be teachers, and to be prophetic preachers,” says Rev. Dr. Israel Alvaran of San Francisco, and Elder ordained in the Philippines Annual Conference. “We claim our role in the local settings where we are serving,” he says, “even as we also understand our role in the larger Church – a Church that we believe needs our dream of a faith community that is whole and just.”
Anticipating the outcome of the Judicial Council decisions from dockets that included “rule of law” cases in Annual Conferences where LGBTQAI+ clergy were the focus, as well as a review of the constitutionality of the “incompatibility clause” in the United Methodist Book of Discipline brought up by CalPac & Denmark, the UMQCC held three witness activities in Los Angeles where the Council was meeting. In acknowledgment of the forthcoming All Saints Day, United Methodist lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender saints were lifted up and remembered for the ways in which they served and moved the church.
“We seek justice, promote healing, and manifest the Church in a new way for our time,” the Caucus recorded as it refined its vision statement, strengthened by its collective of those LGBTQAI+ persons who have publicly felt called to be “out” in a denomination that continues to discriminate.
“It was empowering to experience God in each other,” says Caroline Morrison, a certified candidate from Kansas who awaits appointment as a Licensed Local Pastor. “I’m prayerful that, through our example, our denomination will reflect the Divine I see within each of my queer siblings,” she affirms.
The Caucus, whose core values embody Divine inspiration and insist on honoring God’s call on humanity, says it is striving for “collective wholeness” in the Body of Christ and the Church it serves.
“It’s disappointing that the Council declined to rule on the unconstitutionality of the so-called ‘incompatibility clause’ that has been harming LGBTQAI+ people for nearly 45 years,” says Rev. Dr. Althea Spencer Miller, Assistant Professor of New Testament at Drew Theological School in New Jersey. “But we know the truth that God’s created people are never incompatible with the Gospel,” the Biblical scholar asserts, “and we expect that the denomination that has nurtured us and taught us about God’s forgiving love will one day repent of its 45-years of damaging doctrinal abusive power.”
Further, as the Council reiterated its earlier statements “that all qualifications of ministerial candidates must be examined,” the Caucus has held in prayer the cases involving its LGBTQAI+ kin in Baltimore-Washington and Iowa Annual Conferences.
“We invited the Council to join us in our liturgical celebrations as we remembered the Saints and celebrated Holy Communion,” says Rev. Elyse Ambrose, Pastor at Church of the Village in Manhattan and PhD candidate at Drew. “While they declined our invitation, our community of support surrounded us in these sacred moments of sharing God’s mercy and grace, and no pronouncement about our lives can take the love of God away from us.”
Rev. Lindsey Kerr, who is on the UMQCC leadership team and serves Christ Church and First UMC, both in Santa Rosa, CA, says First UMC served as a refuge center during the recent wildfires, in which many families from both churches lost their homes. “Once again the institution prioritizes its own discipline above its mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world,” says Kerr. “The Church, however, is yet alive. The Church continues to witness to God’s grace, as it has and does in the midst of Santa Rosa’s trauma and grief. I have hope that one day the institution will remember to act as the Church, and in the meantime, like others who have been called, I will simply continue to serve.”
Berkeley’s Epworth UMC Pastor Rev. Kristin Stoneking proclaims “there is no question in my mind that the voice of the UMQCC is essential to our denomination’s wholeness and ability to go on to perfection. Our lives and ministry bear witness to the Incarnational truth that God has many names – and infinite Divine possibilities as we seek repair and healing of harm, and an embrace of the beloved community offered to us in the person of Jesus Christ!”