Comments on the Bishops' Statement

For Immediate Release, Thursday April 14, 2011

By Affirmation: United Methodists Co-spokesperson Tim Tennant-Jayne

Affirmation: United Methodists for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns celebrates the recent Statement of Counsel to the Church – 2011 signed by nearly half of the retired United Methodist Bishops. This statement recognizes current errors in The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church and proclaims that indeed, all human beings are beloved Children of God. This is the message of inclusion Affirmation: United Methodists is promoting.

The signers of this statement are all respected leaders of our denomination. They come from all backgrounds, served in all geographic areas of our church, are diverse in much of their theology, and have all led our denomination with dignity and faithfulness for many years. Now, with the wisdom that can come with years, as well as the safety of being retired and less affected by denominational politics, they publicly speak on their concern about our denomination's official policy of exclusion. This statement shows that God is indeed leading our denomination in a new direction. They do not speak lightly when urging the General Conference delegates and the church members to make this change in the church’s laws and principles.

Affirmation: United Methodists officially began thirty-five years ago because there were no other voices calling for change in how this denomination regards persons of different sexual orientations and gender identification. Twenty years ago only one bishop was willing to publicly stand in opposition to the majority of the Council of Bishops and lead in a different direction. Today nearly one half of the delegates at the last General Conference and forty percent of the retired bishops are seeking to fully accept Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer individuals within this church. God continues to increase the numbers.

As Christians, we are live in the time when Christ is among us, yet we also look forward to the future fulfillment of God's Will on earth. Likewise, we who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, or Queer are finding ourselves in an almost, but not yet time. We recognize the hatred and challenges of this time. However, we also acknowledge the denominations which are fully welcoming of us. We celebrate those states where we can get legally married to the person we love and the increasing number of states recognizing civil unions for our families. And we celebrate the recent decision by President Obama that the federal so-called “Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)” is indeed unconstitutional and his administration will not support it. All of this shows the Spirit of God moving over our land, just as long ago it moved over the waters of the Red Sea. Even then, the Spirit caused great division among the people of God. Some wanted to stay in slavery because that was familiar. Others, including their leader Moses, wanted to move forward into the unknown. May we, like our spiritual ancestors of long ago, find the strength to follow God's Spirit into a new and unknown land. Affirmation: United Methodists thanks the leadership of these bishops for urging us forward.

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As an independent voice of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer people, Affirmation: United Methodists radically reclaims the compassionate and transforming gospel of Jesus Christ by relentlessly pursuing full inclusion in the Church as we journey with the Spirit in creating God’s beloved community.

Affirmation: United Methodists for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Concerns is an activist, all-volunteer, not-for-profit organization with no official ties to The United Methodist Church.

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