The General Commission on Archives & History hosted a press conference exploring the historic struggle for LGBTQIA+ equality in The United Methodist Church on May 2, 2024, during the postponed 2020 General Conference held in Charlotte, NC. Photo by Patrick Scriven for the Western Jurisdiction.

By Evelyn Warren, WJ Communications

History was made on May 1st when delegates removed the ban on LGBTQIA+ ministry and on Thursday, the General Commission on Archives and History (GCAH) (https://gcah.org) hosted a press conference and shared perspectives on how history was made (quite literally) via this General Conference.

Dr. Ashley Boggan D., General Secretary of GCAH, shared the story of how John Wesley himself was known for creating quite the stir, as far back as 1732. At that time, Wesley began what is now prison ministry and according to our United Methodist history, pastored an incarcerated man known in his community as being a homosexual. Boggan proudly shared “in a way, after yesterday, United Methodists are finally returning to who they’ve always been.”

Other panelists were Jan Lawrence, executive director of Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) (https://rmnetwork.org), Rev. Effie E. McAvoy, a seated delegate of the New England Annual Conference and member of the Queer Clergy Caucus, Rev. Hannah Adair Bonner, recently appointed to Hollywood UMC (California Pacific conference) and Rev. Austin Adkinson, a clergy person from Puyallup, WA.

Lawrence has been advocating for change for 52 years but with increasing passion and vision since the closing bell of the Special Session in 2019. She mentioned the victory of May 1st is something RMN has been working toward but that the work is not finished. McAvoy agreed, citing “this is more than just about ‘gayness’. It’s about meeting the people where they are.”

Boggan closed the press conference announcing the creation of the LGBTQ Heritage Center which will be hosted at the Archives and History site. That story and details will develop after General Conference.

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