Last week I joined nearly 600 clergy and laity last week in Kansas City at Church of the Resurrection UMC. Rev. Adam Hamilton, senior pastor, and a diverse convening team of 17 individuals (clergy and lay) led us in powerful conversations about shaping an inclusive Methodist church. Table discussions were diverse and rich; they built community and gathered data that was forwarded to the convening team.
The February vote of the General Conference Special Session was a “tipping point” in The United Methodist Church. The passing of the Traditional Plan tightened the ban on gay clergy and imposed harsh penalties upon clergy who officiate at same-sex unions. After the Traditional Plan was passed thousands of people around the world joined in the conversation. Hamilton said, “I refuse to treat the LGBTQ community as second class.” Churches and Annual Conferences around the world have stood up in holy resistance, embracing our baptismal vows to resist evil and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves. We discussed the need for contextual expressions of resistance. A form of resistance, for example, that is appropriate in Seattle might not be appropriate in Athens, Georgia. We also explored creating a new, fully inclusive Methodist Church.
The participants at the UMC Next Conference reached consensus on the following core values:
1. We long to be passionate followers of Jesus Christ, committed to a Wesleyan vision of Christianity, anchored in scripture and informed by tradition, experience and reason as we live a life of personal piety and social holiness.
2. We commit to resist evil, injustice and oppression in all forms and toward all people and build a church that affirms the full participation of all ages, nations, races, classes, cultures, gender identities, sexual orientations, and abilities.
3. We reject the Traditional Plan approved at General Conference 2019 as inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ and will resist its implementation.
4. We will work to eliminate discriminatory language and the restrictions and penalties in the Discipline regarding LGBTQ persons. We affirm the sacred worth of LGBTQ persons, celebrate their gifts, and commit to being in ministry together.
At Hyde Park Community, The HPC Way Forward Task Force will be holding listening sessions this summer and fall. Please join us in prayer as we seek God’s path for us.