RMSC speaks to GC2016 delegation about LGBT inclusion
By the Rev. Meg Wilkes
On March 13, many “reconciling” United Methodists from around South Carolina attended an open meeting of the conference’s delegates
to the 2016 General Conference.
As stated to the delegates, the purpose for attending the meeting was to be a presence of support and prayer for the difficult task that lies
before the delegation and to urge our delegates to be conscientious of the many thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members
and families in The United Methodist Church who ask for their responsible reflection in matters pertaining to LGBT lives in the church.
Prior to the delegation meeting, Reconciling Ministries of South Carolina had sent each delegate a copy of “A Place at the Table,” a publication
of real-life stories by reconciling laity and clergy in the South Carolina Annual Conference. RMSC had asked that, as delegates prepare
to vote at General Conference, they take the time to read these personal stories and so hear the voices of those who represent the lives and
concerns of all LGBT United Methodists.
During the meeting, the Rev. Meg Wilkes offered a word of gratitude for the hospitality shown to the group, reiterated the purpose of
their presence as a sign of solidarity with the delegates to pray for the large task before them, and then read the following statement:
“On behalf of those who are present today as LGBT members of the church, parents and friends of LGBT members and ministers to
LGBT individuals, I bring to you that we have come today to stand with all the people we know and know of, who have been selected by
The United Methodist Church as particularly unworthy to be called Christians, whose very lives as non-heterosexual human beings have
been determined by The United Methodist Church to be particularly incompatible with Christian teaching, and who therefore have
been named by The United Methodist Church as particularly less valuable and less desirable members of the body of Christ.
“This premise, as set forth in our doctrinal literature, defies the honest and thorough exam of our sacred Scriptures regarding the meaning
of life and love, the meaning of the atoning power of hope for all the world revealed to us in The Christ whom we worship and proclaim,
and the absolute mystery of God’s own mind and heart still and always at work in creation. This illegitimate principle—by which we have
blatantly discarded at best and trampled at worst hundreds of thousands of baptized members of God’s kingdom—is blasphemous, completely
missing the message of the Holy Spirit who makes all things new and is ever teaching us what we have yet to understand.
“We stand to say that it is embarrassing and shameful for our beloved United Methodist Church to outcast human beings from the inclusive
fold of Jesus Christ.
“We pray with you, along with a host of others, that our denomination will have the courage to face the mystery of God’s own creative genius,
and to trust that Christ’s radical hospitality and affirmation of the misunderstood and the misjudged actually applies still today. I pray
that we will all remember, and that it will be deeply lodged in our consciences, that love is our ultimate calling as Christians, and that no
one in particular is less capable of living out that calling of love as experienced through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
RMSC appreciated the opportunity to participate in the meeting and, in the Spirit of Christ and the hope of reconciliation, they will
continue to pray for the full and affirming inclusion of all who love God and live a life of loving others in Christ’s name. For more about RMSC,
links and educational resources for ministry with the LGBT individuals and their families in your community and churches: www.reconcilingministriessc.org.
Rev. Wilkes is an ordained deacon in the South Carolina Conference, minister of Christian education and spiritual formation at First United Methodist
Church, Clover, SC, and a member of Reconciling Ministries of South Carolina.
Publication: South Carolina United Methodist Advocate; Date:
April 2016; Page: 9