FEBRUARY 2019 — RE: We understand. We share your frustration.
On Tuesday, February 26, 2019, the United Methodist Church (UMC) voted in a special session of the General Conference (their top legislative body) to adopt the “Traditional Plan” which sought to strengthen enforcement of the denomination’s homosexuality prohibitions. It was passed by a vote of 438-384.
This special session of the UMC, the second largest protestant denomination in the United States, was the resut of a 2018 report of a commission established by the Council of Bishops (COB) to review their Book of Discipline, a fundamental book that outlines the denomination's law, doctrine, and procedures.
The result of that commission, endorsed by the COB, was called the “One Church Plan” which would have allowed accommodations for same-sex marriage and LGBTIQ clergy. Currently, only celibate LGBTIQ members are permitted to be ordained.
Seventh-day Adventist Kinship International, an advocacy community for LGBTIQ individuals with a Seventh-day Adventist connection, has been paying close attention to proceedings of the UMC session.
Our denominations share many similarities, including the presence of influential conservative groups that strongly oppose affirmation, opportunities, and treatment. This was reflected in the session that featured impassioned and emotionally charged speeches from both sides towards LGBTIQ people. This was reflected in the UMC session.
We want to highlight the words of Rev. Byron Thomas who compared the issue to the church's earlier handling of racial segregation within the denomination. Thomas, in his impassioned speech, quoted the late Bishop Thomas of North Carolina: “In 1939 the UMC was trying to figure out what to do with black people. At that GC…the white folk stood up and clapped and the black folk sat down and cried.” This is another stand-up-and-clap, sit-down-and-cry moment, according to Rev. Thomas. We agree.
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” On this day, the 27th day of African-American History Month, we sit down and cry in solidarity with our LGBTIQ friends and allies in the United Methodist Church. Tomorrow, we stand up and continue our work in solidarity and unison to move that arc towards justice for LGBTIQ Christians.
Justice will come.