ST. LOUIS, Mo. — General Secretary Susan Henry-Crowe of the General Board of Church and Society of The United Methodist Church released the following statement after the close of the 2019 General Conference of The United Methodist Church:
“The United Methodist Church’s special General Conference failed Tuesday to love LGBTQIA people, recognize their gifts in the church, maintain our unity in the midst of diversity, and to live out our Gospel mandate to seek justice and pursue peace.
“We worship a fully-inclusive, justice-seeking God. Church and Society is committed to living out our faith, seeking justice and pursuing peace. We will be in ministry with all people who seek to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Church and Society will never cease to work with God to build the fully-inclusive realm of God on earth.
“The 2019 General Conference chose to further deepen the divide in The United Methodist Church. The plan adopted by a slim majority is punitive, contrary to our Wesleyan heritage, and in clear violation of the mandate given to us in 1 Corinthians 12.
“‘The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!”‘ (1 Corinthians 12:21a) One part of our church cannot say to another, “I don’t need you.” And yet, that’s exactly what happened.
“The 2019 General Conference brought unbearable pain to the body of Christ. The delegates’ resistance to hear and honor the presence and voices of LGBTQIA people has created a wound. The wound may one day be healed by the grace of God, but the scar left behind will visible forever.
“Our prayer must be of repentance. We must seek forgiveness. We must call on Christ to heal all of the brokenness we have imposed on the body.
“I will pray for forgiveness for my part of having participated in a church that has excluded, pushed out and damaged many faith-filled LGBTQIA people. For all the families and young people wounded by these exclusions, we must always pray.
“Whatever comes next for The United Methodist Church, I am steadfast in my belief that the General Conference cannot release us from our responsibility to love and care for a world groaning for justice.
“We must also put our faith into action, and continue to work for LGBTQIA equality in civil and human rights.
“We will seek justice for LGBTQIA migrants. We will seek to end conversion therapy, the dangerous and discredited idea that you can change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. We will work to ensure that no one is fired from their job or prevented from access to housing because they are LGBTQIA. We will work to end hate crimes against LGBTQIA people, especially LGBTQIA people of color. We will seek a climate in which LGBTQIA children are protected and enabled to live full and flourishing lives.
“The work of justice and peace continues. Whatever comes next for The United Methodist Church, I am steadfast in my belief that the General Conference cannot release us from our responsibility to love and care for a world groaning for justice.”
The General Conference is the legislative body of The United Methodist Church and is comprised of more than 800 delegates from around the world. General Conference generally meets every four years, but met in a special session Feb. 24-26, 2019, in order to deal with matters of ministry of and with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people.
The delegates to the regularly-scheduled 2016 General Conference recognized The United Methodist Church is not of one mind when it comes to the ministry of and with LGBTQ people. They asked the United Methodist Council of Bishops to set up a process to figure out a way through this disagreement.
The Council of Bishops then appointed 33 people to The Commission on a Way Forward. Their task was to find a structural solution to this theological disagreement.
The commission presented the Council of Bishops three plans.
The Connectional Conference Plan was a massive restructure of the denomination. The Traditionalist Plan further entrenching the denomination’s stance on human sexuality. The One Church Plan codified the regional differences already present in the denomination.
The bishops recommended the One Church Plan. The delegates to the 2019 General Conference chose the Traditionalist Plan.
The United Methodist Church’s Social Principles state, “Certain basic human rights and civil liberties are due all persons. We are committed to supporting those rights and liberties for all persons, regardless of sexual orientation.” (Social Principles, ¶162.J)
The Social Principles also say that The United Methodist Church supports “the rights of all persons to equal access to housing, education, communication, employment, medical care, legal redress of grievances, and physical protection.” (Social Principles, ¶162)
The United Methodist Church also “deplore[s] acts of hate and violence against groups or persons based on … sexual orientation [or] gender identity.” (Social Principles, ¶162)
Church and Society is the social justice public policy agency of The United Methodist Church. Its main office is located across from the Supreme Court on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Rooted in our faith, we seek to implement the statements of the denomination as contained within the Social Principles and Book of Resolutions.