GC2012: Love Your Neighbor Common Witness Coalition

MEDIA RELEASE

LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR – COMMON WITNESS COALITION

Affirmation: United Methodists for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Queer Concerns
Black Methodists for Church Renewal
Methodist Federation for Social Action

Native American International Caucus of United Methodists

National Association of Asian American United Methodists

Reconciling Ministries Network

http://www.generalconference2012.org/

April 26, 2012

Media Contact:    

Ann Craig, Coalition Media Coordinator, (917) 280-2968, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; Steve Clunn, Coalition Coordinator (518) 878-6737 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Love Your Neighbor Campaign Urges United Methodist Church to “Stand With Mark”

Advocates for full inclusion in the United Methodist Church lovingly confronted the dismissive and hurtful words, actions, and attitudes of delegates of the General Conference. The General Conference is meeting in Tampa, Florida until May 4 and will consider nearly 100 resolutions concerning the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in the life of the United Methodist Church.

After four years of not meeting, the General Conference conducted only one hour of “holy conversation” on the subject of the inclusion of LGBT people on first day of the General Conference. Many people reported experiencing hurtful words during these “holy conversations.” Members of the coalition working for full inclusion set the tone for the coming week by speaking out against demeaning words against LGBT people.

During the Thursday evening plenary, Mark Miller, a delegate and openly gay man, brought the concerns of the coalition before the General Conference. As he rose to speak, allied delegates began to gather around as a visible sign of support. Others in the audience stood at their seats.

The following is the text of Mark’s powerful witness:

I am rising for a point of personal privilege. As an elected, credentialed member of this General Conference, I am offering my voice to say that the attempt at Holy Conversation about Human Sexuality yesterday was incomplete. The need for authentic conversation about human sexuality is so important. However, the process that we attempted yesterday failed us. It failed because of a lack of leadership and oversight, Because the process did not respect people. It didn't plan for the care of those who were hurt by the process, so we are standing here as gay and lesbian delegates. Yesterday the church did us harm, but when we're harmed, the church is harmed. We serve at every level of the church, though very few will admit it. We were bullied emotionally, spiritually, and physically, and it didn't seem like anyone did anything.

We abide by Wesley's rule of do no harm, and we feel the rule was broken. [sigh] So we stand here because we can't wait for broken promises to fix themselves. It's time for our church to live our resurrection faith. I know that there are other delegates who are gay or lesbian, bi or transgender, and delegates who have family members and colleagues who are glbt. We invite them to stand with us at this moment.*

The Presiding Bishop terminated Mark’s witness. At that time, Mark, asked the bishop to pray for him. The bishop did, and the moment passed. His words generated a “Stand with Mark” campaign which quickly went viral on Twitter (#standwithmark). The comments on Twitter supported both Mark, and called for the United Methodist Church to oppose bullying words and actions.

Following worship, demonstrators stood in silent protest, lining the walkway outside of worship. According to one witness, there were over 200

 

*The original news release had a slightly different version of what Mark said. This is a verbatim transcript of his speech.