As the special session of General Conference prepares to convene in St. Louis, people within the Baltimore-Washington Conference and The United Methodist Church have a number of viewpoints about finding a way forward on the church’s response to homosexuality. Members of the Steering Committee of the Baltimore-Washington Area Reconciling United Methodists offer these thoughts:
To our Church Family:
One of our great United Methodist composers, Mark Miller, has written a song that has been used in many of our churches and Annual Conference gatherings, perhaps even at General Conference. “Child of God” is based on Romans 8:38-39, "I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us." (The Message)
Mark’s words have a simple but powerful message for all United Methodist as we gather in St. Louis for the Special General Conference. “No matter what people say, say or think about you, you are a child of God.” It is just that simple. In our baptism, Sunday School classes, confirmation
If we truly believe Jesus when he said, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life,” Jesus, not the church, is the gatekeeper. Grace is freely offered to each of us. Matthew 25:34-36 reminds us in the parable of the sheep and the goats, “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’” We believe that we will be judged on what we did to further the kingdom of God, further evidenced by our denominational mission statement to “make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world,” not by who we love.
Many of our friends and family have not felt welcome inside the doors of United Methodist churches. Their calling, their ministry, and even their baptism have been questioned. But we still believe in the best of what The United Methodist Church can be: a movement where social and personal holiness blossom in a wide variety of contexts including communities outside of the United States. We have much to learn together. We are stronger together. We can open the table wider together. There’s no doubt there are different views about sexual orientation and gender identity, but everyone agrees that extending love and grace are to be the cornerstones of United Methodist communities.
Love is what The United Methodist Church should be known for, where all people are welcomed. Jesus was right when he said, “they’ll know you are my disciples if you love one another” (John 13:35). May love win out at this special General Conference and may LGBTQ+ persons, their families, and their allies
Grace and Peace,
The Steering Committee of the Baltimore-Washington Area Reconciling United Methodists