All Are Welcome
Front page article from the July/August 2011 issue of the Contact
NBUMC is excited to become the first reconciling United Methodist church in Montgomery County and now joins a growing group of 400 reconciling churches throughout the country.
We are proud of our youth in leading us to this decision. NBUMC has always been a special place, welcome to all and inclusive. Now those who are searching for such a church will find us more easily.
- The program would take place over a six week period of time.
- The program would consist of different types of events, films and discussions, panel discussions, a bible study, and single presenters.
- The goal is to have open and frank conversations about the facts surrounding becoming a recognized reconciling congregation and to understand the fears and questions that congregation members have about the process.
- At the end of the six weeks, the congregation would participate in a consensus event to decide together whether or not to become a recognized reconciling congregation.
- The youth have asked that congregation members wanting to participate in the consensus event on June 28th attend at least one of the educational events. The youth will ask attendees to sign in at each event. Congregation members are welcome to as few or as many of the events as they wish.
She will present a slide presentation and talk with time for questions and discussion to follow.
Panel Discussion: Parents, family members and LGBT persons.
Members of the NBUMC church family will share their perspective and experience with this issue.
Anne Brown, the director and producer, will be with us to lead a discussion afterward.
The film discusses the United Methodist view on homosexuality as stated in the Book of Discipline.
"The Bible and Scripture": A discussion with two view points.
Presented by Dr. Youtha Hardman-Cromwell, Assistant Dean, Wesley Theological Seminary at Mount Vernon Square.
Presentation and Discussion with Rev. Dr. Phil Wagamon,
retired professor of Ethics at Wesley Theological Seminary.
Reconciling United Methodists are agents of change!
Reconciling Congregations and Homosexuality
in the United Methodist Church
A reconciling congregation in the United Methodist Church is a church that is part of the national Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN), which advocates the full participation of people in the United Methodist Church regardless of sexual orientations and gender identities. The name of the Reconciling Ministries organization is based on the passage from 2 Corinthians 5:19:
The following provides information on reconciling congregations as well as the United Methodist Church's position on homosexuality, links to Methodist organizations on both sides of the debate, links to both Biblical passages and books dealing with the issue, and information that has been distributed to NBUMC members with regards to the current bridgebuilding/reconciling study.
Becoming a reconciling congregation,
2) DOES MEAN that all visitors to a reconciling church can know that they will be welcomed and not judged on their sexual orientation and will not be subjected to anything negative or derogatory with regards to the issue of homosexuality during any part of a church service or event
3) DOES MEAN that the church is welcoming the opportunity to become a more diverse congregation
4) DOES MEAN that the church joins other United Methodist churches, individuals and organizations in the belief that all people should be accepted and are loved by God regardless of their sexual orientation.
5) DOES MEAN that when the time comes for the appointment of a pastor to a reconciling church, the bishop will be mindful of this and attempt to appoint someone who shares the church's views on the subject of sexual orientation.
Becoming a reconciling congregation,
2) DOES NOT MEAN that the church will become a "gay church" - it is believed that reconciling congregations have an average of about 10-15% gay members, and many churches acknowledge the added blessings of open honesty, trust and love in becoming a reconciling congregation.
3) DOES NOT MEAN that the church must have an annual "gay tax" line item in its budget payable to the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) - all donations to RMN are voluntary and there is no requirement or expectation that a reconciling church must pay a yearly apportionment/fee to RMN. Individual donations are the major source of funding for RMN.
4) DOES NOT MEAN that the congregation must support a clergy member who announces that he or she is gay and thus will be subject to a church trial under current United Methodist Church policy.
5) DOES NOT MEAN that the congregation will necessarily support gay marriage issues - some reconciling churches, especially some in California and Massachusetts, are certainly supportive of gay marriage proposals, but there is no requirement or expectation that a reconciling church will agree with proposals regarding the redefinition of the institution of marriage. These are considered two separate issues.
Confessing Movement: United Methodist group that advocates for "the United Methodist Church to retrieve its classical doctrinal identity, and to live it out as disciples of Jesus Christ." There is also an "unofficial" Confessing Movement website at ucmpage.org.
Transforming Movement: United Methodist group that believes that those who deal with homosexual temptations are loved and through Christ can be transformed into heterosexuals.
United Methodist Groups with Progressive points of view
Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN): - group of churches, communities, and individuals that advocates for the full "participation of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities in the life of the United Methodist Church".
Affirmation: An activist organization of United Methodists that addresses inclusion and justice concerns of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders and their allies.
While persons set apart by the Church for ordained ministry are subject to all the frailties of the human condition and the pressures of society, they are required to maintain the highest standards of holy living in the world. Since the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching, self-avowed practicing homosexuals1 are not to be accepted as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.
1 "Self-avowed practicing homosexual" is understood to mean that a person openly acknowledges to a bishop, district superintendent, district committee of ordained ministry, board of ordained ministry, or clergy session that the person is a practicing homosexual. See Judicial Council Decisions 702, 708, 722, 725, 764, 844.
Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches.
"The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider this practice incompatible with Christian teaching."
The church's statement in the Social Principles regarding equal rights regardless of sexual orientation
From the United Methodist Church's website: "What is the denomination’s position on homosexuality?"
Videos on the United Methodist Church website: Statements from both sides of the homosexuality debate during General Conference 2004
Information on the United Methodist Church website regarding the trial and defrocking of Beth Stroud.
On October 29, 2005, the Judicial Council of the United Methodist Church ruled in Decision 1032 that a Virginia United Methodist pastor was within his right to deny membership to a gay man because the perspective member was unwilling to repent or seek to live a different lifestyle.
In reaction to the Judicial Council's ruling, the Council of Bishops released a pastoral letter to the People of The United Methodist Church on November 2, 2005 stating that "gay and lesbian people are not to be excluded from church membership." The following day, Bishop John Schol also released a statement reiterating what the Council of Bishops had said and asking members of the Baltimore-Washington Conference to "keep the whole church in prayer and especially those who are experiencing the pain of being excluded by the recent Judicial Council decisions." The Bishop's letter can be found by clicking on this link.
The Baltimore-Washington and Wisconsin Annual Conferences passed motions in early November 2005 requesting that a special session of the General Conference be convened to address the matter of Decision 1032.
Scriptures often cited in the debate about Homosexuality
The story of Sodom & Gomorrah
Leviticus 18:22 & Leviticus 20:13:
the "abomination" passages
Romans 1: 26-27:
Paul's passage regarding the "unnatural", those who are socially unacceptable
I Corinthians 6:9-10:
Paul's reference to those who are unrighteous.
The translation of this passage has been debated by Biblical scholars
I Timothy 1:9-10:
A passage similar to the 1 Corinthians passage.
The translation of this passage has also been debated by some scholars
Other passages cited less frequently
Reference to Sodom and Gomorrah
2 Peter 2:4-11:
Reference to Sodom and Gomorrah
1 Samuel 18:1-4, 1 Samuel 20:1-42, and 2 Samuel 1:22-26
The story of David & Jonathan which some argue was more than a friendship
The story of Ruth and Naomi which some also cite as being more than a friendship
Jesus, the Bible and Homosexuality: Explode the Myths, Heal the Church by Jack Rogers
What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality by Daniel Helminiak
Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views by Robert Gagnon
The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics by Robert Gagnon
The Church and the Homosexual by John McNeil
Homosexuality in the Church: Both Sides of the Debate by Jeffrey Siker
Living in Sin?: A Bishop Rethinks Human Sexuality by Bishop John Spong
Stranger at the Gate : To Be Gay and Christian in America by Mel White
Uncommon Calling: A Gay Man's Struggle to Serve the Church by Chris Glaser
Capitol Hill UMC - Washington, DC
Christ UMC - Columbia, MD
Christ UMC - Washington, DC
Dumbarton UMC - Washington DC
Foundry UMC - Washington, DC
St.Luke's UMC - Washington, DC
St. John's UMC - Baltimore, MD
One other church in the conference, Metropolitan Memorial UMC in Washington, DC is considering becoming a reconciling congregation.
A list of all reconciling United Methodist churches in the United States can be found by clicking on this link.
Foundry UMC (Washington, DC) Statement of Reconciliation
We, the friends and members of Foundry United Methodist Church, hold deeply our commitment to help bring about a peaceful, loving, just and accepting world. We are proud of our active, diverse congregation and have seen how each person has graced our community with his or her talents. We believe that the Holy Spirit dwells in all.
We acknowledge our oneness with all of God’s creation and invite gay and lesbian persons to share our faith, our community life, and our ministries. We also affirm the same for all persons without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, age, economic status, or physical or mental condition.
We seek to be an inclusive congregation, and we proclaim our commitment to seek the reconciliation of all persons to God and to each other through Jesus Christ.
As we journey toward reconciliation with all, we proclaim this statement of welcome to all, including our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters: God loves you and we love you, we affirm you, and accept you, we treasure you. We welcome you.
At the same time, we recognize that there remain differences of opinion among us on issues relating to sexuality. We do not seek to erase our differences, but to journey together in faith toward greater understanding and mutual respect.
In becoming a Reconciling Congregation we believe that we are being reconciled to God and to one another.
"All this from God, who reconciled us ... through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation." II CORINTHIANS 5:18
Fair Oaks United Methodist Church (Fair Oaks, CA) Statement of Reconciliation
We believe that each individual is of sacred worth. Therefore, we pledge ourselves to engage in the sacred hospitality and responsibility Christ taught. We commit ourselves to maintaining a place of safety and sanctuary for all who come together in ministry and mission: people of all races, ages, sexual orientations, family structures, economic situations, and mental or physical conditions. Through the grace of Christ we dedicate ourselves to live out these commitments creatively, humbly and with hope.
Woodland Park United Methodist Church (Seattle, WA) Statement of Inclusion
We believe the simple truth that God loves each person, and that each individual is of sacred worth. Therefore,
We declare our church and church community to be a Hate-Free Zone.
We pledge ourselves to engage in the radical hospitality Jesus taught, creating a place of safety and sanctuary for all who enter.
We celebrate the gifts of all who come seeking God, Christian community and justice in our world.
We include people of all races, ethnicities, nationalities, ages, genders, gender identities, sexual orientations, family structures, economic situations, political affiliations, mental or physical conditions, or biblical interpretations.
We welcome all into full participation in the ministry and mission of Woodland Park United Methodist Church.
St. Stephen United Methodist (Mesquite, TX) Reconciling Congregation Statement
In response to our calling to share the message of God's unconditional love, we welcome persons of all ages, genders, races, ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, socioeconomic status, physical and mental abilities as full participants in our community of faith. In so believing, we recognize that the Church's position on homosexuality has caused pain to many people. Therefore, we extend a special invitation to gays, lesbians, and their families to join us in building a community that reflects God's love for all.
Lexington United Methodist Church (Lexington, MA) Statement of Reconciliation
All persons are individuals of sacred worth. We affirm Jesus' example of love without reservation and covenant to deal compassionately and justly with each other. Therefore, this inclusive and nurturing community of faith will continue to welcome all persons of any age, gender, race, ethnic origin, economic reality, family status, sexual orientation, diverse ability or social standing as full participants in the life and work of this reconciling congregation.
North Bethesda UMC Statement of Welcome and Affirmation
Adopted by the Church Council on May 17, 2005