By WJ Communications

Delegates and observers from the Western Jurisdiction are celebrating this morning, after harmful language for LGBTQIA+ persons was removed from the Book of Discipline at General Conference in Charlotte.

We started the morning singing ‘There’s a song in every silence…at the last a victory’ and ‘We’ll tell the story of how we’ve overcome.’ And do we have a story to tell! We’ve made it clear that all of God’s children are beloved and free to serve and respond to God’s call,” said Rev. Dr. Kristin Stoneking, a queer clergy reserve delegate from the California-Nevada Conference.

Rev. Jeffrey Kuan, clergy delegate for the California-Nevada Conference, gave up his seat in order to allow Stoneking to cast her vote.

“I felt the lift of a weight of 32 years since answering God’s call to serve as an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. Though I expected celebration and elation, the depth of joy in my heart surprised me,” said Stoneking.

Without debate during the approval of the consent calendar, delegates vote 692-51 – or 93 percent – passage of several legislative items, including the removal of harmful language that banned, specifically the ordination of “self-avowed practicing homosexuals.” 

And there are to be no penalties for clergy or church from holding same-sex weddings, according to reporting from United Methodist News Service.

Jan Nelson, a lesbian lay delegate from the Oregon-Idaho Conference who has attended several General Conferences where there were tears of sorrow, summed hear feelings in one word.

“Halleluah!” she said.

“The pain and grief from 2019 has been transformed to the joy of freedom for all,” said Don McCammon, a lay delegate from the Mountain Sky Conference.

During a break shortly after the vote, delegates from across the connection gathered together to sing, cry and celebrate this historic moment. 

“The passing of the LGBTQIA legislation is a monumental moment in the history of the UMC,” said Micheal Pope, lay delegate from the California-Nevada Conference. “As the people called Methodist we are saying we believe that all of God’s children are sacred in God’s sight. We the people called Methodist chose love over fear and hate. Our LGBTQIA siblings have been welcomed and have been seen. The affirmative vote is our apology for the past. I look forward to going home and saying to all of my LGBTQIA siblings the Methodist church will do no harm.”

“We’ve waited so long for this moment,” said Rev. Elizabeth Ingram Schindler of the Pacific Northwest Conference. “We just feel so, so grateful for everyone who’s come before, who has in the work to make this happen — to make this space for everyone who is called to serve.”

Rev. Jim Doepken, first-elected clergy delegate from the Alaska Conference, echoed much the same sentiments.

“We have been working toward full inclusion of all our LGBTQIA+ siblings for years and celebrate along with them and our friends at General Conference,” he said. “It has been a good day with lots of work ahead. As our Bishop Cedrick Bridgeforth has said, we pray the changing legislation comes with a change in behavior.”

 

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