The Op-Ed article by Dave Gauger in a recent Saturday Daily World was an interesting dissertation on the United Methodist Church’s Special General Conference, which met in St. Louis in February.
It was a contentious meeting with the purpose of determining a “Way Forward” in the church’s long-standing debate on its “position” on inclusion of those in the LGBTQ community. The vote was close (438 “yes” vs. 384 “no”) and, sadly, the “Traditional Plan” was on the winning side.
What Mr. Gauger did not address is the fact that many in the UMC refuse to accept the notion of legislating discrimination. The bulk of the delegates from the Western Jurisdiction (from the Rockies to the Coast) fought long and hard to eliminate the exclusionary language in the UMC Book of Discipline and argued to allow Conferences and Congregations to practice their Christianity as they feel called to do.
As pastor of the Hoquiam United Methodist Church, I would like to inform Mr. Gauger and others in our area that for the past 11 years this congregation has been on record and publicly advocating full acceptance of everyone. In the Methodist “lingo” we are called a “Reconciling Congregation,” meaning we explicitly welcome everyone, including all sexual orientations and gender identities, fully into the life of the church. There are many such congregations throughout the United States, and they are dedicated to fully recognizing that we are all one family in God.
We serve a welcoming and creative God, who creates God’s children in a variety of colors, shapes and genders. Each one is beautifully made and loved and welcomed.
Stay tuned. There is strong opposition to the result of the meeting in St. Louis. There are also questions as to whether the language that passed at that meeting meets the requirements of the Church constitution. While all that is being sorted out, our church, and many others, will be working to remove the discriminatory language from our rule book. In any event, we will not change or dilute our stand that all are welcome, anytime.
Kathryn L. Garnett, Pastor
Hoquiam United Methodist Church