Group photo, signers of Love Letter
by Ben Roe and Ann Craig

As we prepare to leave General Conference, we are exhausted. It is difficult to say if we “won” or “lost.” Like four years ago, we feel like we squeaked by a total splintering of the denomination.  People on both ends of the spectrum expected the church to melt down.  In the end, we learned a bit more about who are our friends.

After a series of marches and actions by the Love Your Neighbor Coalition (LYNC), the General Conference voted to have the Council of Bishops lead the church by bringing in a recommendation for action.

By Ann Craig

“Hang Them!” was the headline in a local Ugandan paper that, combined with the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda, forced Ugandan LGBTQI people into hiding if they could not get out of the country. The law threatened family, friends, and neighbors with imprisonment if they didn’t turn people in for being gay. Neighbors and landlords forced LGBTQI Ugandans to flee their homes. They lost jobs, communities, and families.

Affirmation LogoIn August of 2015, Affirmation began a partnership with Ugandan LGBTQI people to help a growing network of men and women establish two small businesses to help them survive. With a small grant, made possible by the bequest of Tim Tenant-Jayne, a long-time activist with Affirmation, we enabled them to launch a hair salon and a brickmaking business.

At the 2020 General Conference, it will be more than 50 years since the UMC passed the “incompatible with Christian teaching” language.

Bishop Joseph Tolton of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries grew into the fullness of his being in a conservative Black Pentecostal context as a young gay man of faith. On Monday night he will share a  word of hope from LGBTQI people in Africa. Bishop Tolton has been on the ground in Africa every year for the last six years to reach out to faith leaders and LGBTQI church members to build a  Pan-African bridge of support for sexual minorities. The courage of allies and LGBTQI people is an inspiration to United Methodists who care about sexual minorities. The journey is long but the reward is great.

Today, there is more support than ever in Africa for the family of God who happen to be same-gender-loving people or who transcend narrow definitions of male and female.

Join us at 5:30 pm on Monday at the Jupiter Hotel (800 E. Burnside) for a word of hope, and then at 10:00 pm for communion!

Read the whole issue (PDF)

Dear Bishop Silent:

For years you have told your clergy to come and converse with you about doing same gender weddings in our churches and in our ministry. You have told us to stay within the letter of the church law so that you can support us. You have reminded us that United Methodists do not agree. You have claimed to be a voice for unity.

Affirmation LogoYour ministry has been very strategic in positioning yourself and your cabinet to prevent trials in your Episcopal Area. In 1992, I would have been pleased with a bishop who was working with me to safely reach out in ministry. However, in 2016 our church needs bishops to faithfully welcome all people and prophetically call our church to change. Our world needs us to lead with bold inclusion.

Gary Shephardby Gary Shephard

Why is a gay man at GC 2016? The struggle within the church for recognition of our humanity and differentness and for acceptance has gone on since the 1970s. Good grief, the Supreme Court finally recognized our right to marry, something I thought I’d never live to see, and still we have no guarantee that The UMC will change in 2016, or that it will ever change.

Yet change it must. This is a very important thing for us to accomplish. Look around us.

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