The Commission on a Way Forward (Newsletter Fall 2016)

By Gary Shephard    
General Conference 2016 is in the rearview mirror. However, for an issue extremely important to many of us, we
won’t have to wait until GC 2020 to see what’s next.

On the second Wednesday of GC 2016, the Council of Bishops made a proposal. They would form a special
commission, to be known as the Commission on a Way Forward. This commission would have as its goal to propose
how the church could move forward on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. Including in this proposal
was a request that trials of LGBTQI and LGBTQI supporting clergy be curtailed (but not eliminated). It also tabled
all petitions that had made it out of committee.

Read more: The Commission on a Way Forward (Newsletter Fall 2016)

Affirmation's Work in Uganda (Newsletter, Fall, 2016)

By Ann Craig

Life for LGBTI people in Uganda was never easy but, in 2007, American Scott Lively made it much worse. He went to Uganda and worked directly with lawmakers to help draft the Anti-Homosexuality Bill known as the “Kill the Gays” bill. International pressure kept the bill from passing until early 2014 when a slightly less heinous version was voted through.

Employers, landlords. and neighbors forced LGBTI people to flee because the law included prison for them if they did not report them. Without job or housing, some fled to Kenya and applied for asylum. Others fled from house to house within Uganda. The law was annulled in August of 2014, and some people returned to rebuild their lives despite ongoing discrimination.

Read more: Affirmation's Work in Uganda (Newsletter, Fall, 2016)

We Stand with LGBTQI Ugandans (GC2016 Newsletter May 18)

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.

Read more: We Stand with LGBTQI Ugandans (GC2016 Newsletter May 18)

Are We There Yet? (GC2016 Newsletter May 20)

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.

Read more: Are We There Yet? (GC2016 Newsletter May 20)

Dear Silent Bishop: (GC2016 Newsletter May 19)

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.

Read more: Dear Silent Bishop: (GC2016 Newsletter May 19)

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