LGBT INCLUSION FAQ

Why is full LGBT inclusion in the Methodist Church important to you? Written by a First UMC Member…

“I feel the current policies of the United Methodist Church cause significant damage to LGBT people, their families and friends. Currently 35 retired United Methodist Bishops and many others are calling for a change to these policies. When the church says the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching, the LGBT person is being told that the essence of who he/she is as a sexual person is sinful and unacceptable. I feel the exclusion of LGBT folks from full acceptance is incompatible with what Jesus taught. Because these policies don’t allow for lesbians and gays to serve as ordained clergy, we are also denied the talents and gifts of many faithful Christians. LGBT folks who feel the call to ministry in the United Methodist Church face the choice of leaving to go to more accepting denominations, staying and praying for change, or challenging Church law and risking punitive actions.” — Katy

What does it mean to be a Reconciling congregation or community?

A Reconciling Community or Congregation is any group who openly includes all persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Reconciling groups are listed on the Reconciling Ministries Network website after adopting a welcoming statement and registering with RMN.

Our local church Mission Statement already includes “welcoming all.” Why do we need to specifically mention sexual orientation and gender identity?

The United Methodist Church only defines one group of people as “incompatible with Christian teaching:” homosexuals. Because The United Methodist Church explicitly excludes, any inclusive welcome must be equally specific.

What does the United Methodist Church say?

The 2008 Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church* states in paragraph 161.J on Human Sexuality, “The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching.” Additionally, “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” are excluded from ordination (¶304.3); and, churches as well as clergy are forbidden from hosting or conducting same-sex weddings (¶341.6 & ¶2702.1).

How is Reconciling part of our United Methodist identity?

The United Methodist Book of Discipline reminds us that “we are called to be faithful to the example of Jesus’ ministry to all persons” (¶139) and implores “families and churches not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends. We commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons” (¶161.F). Reconciling Congregations and Communities take this evangelical instruction seriously, seeking to love rather than to exclude.

Who is Reconciling Ministries Network?

Our church is a member of Reconciling Ministries Network ( http://www.rmnetwork.org), which is a movement of tens of thousands of United Methodists working for the full inclusion of persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities. RMN’s mission is to “mobilize United Methodists of all sexual orientations and gender identities for the transformation of our church and world into the full expression of Christ’s inclusive love.”

*Official United Methodist statements are written into the Book of Discipline every four years by the General Conference, a group of elected representatives. The most recent edition (currently binding) is from 2012. Sections of the Book of Discipline are designated not by page, but by their paragraph (¶) number.

Who is The Chicago Coalition of Welcoming Churches?

We also are a member of The Chicago Coalition of Welcoming Churches (http://chicagowelcomingchurches.org/),  a multi-denominational collaboration of churches and other ministries in the Chicago metropolitan area which welcome and affirm people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. They have two goals:
•    To spread the message of our members’ LGBTQ inclusion across the Chicago metropolitan area, mindful that a positive message about sexual and family diversity is a gift to all people.
•    To connect the leaders, members, and guests of our partner churches for fellowship and education, enabling support and resource sharing for the practices of faithful welcome.