Here We Stand: Calling the United Methodist Church to Embody God's
Love and Justice
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 6, 2005
Washington, DC - Church leaders call on the United Methodist Church to
"embody God's love" by ending discrimination against homosexual
persons and reversing alarming Judicial Council decisions
In a statement released today, a group of United Methodist church
leaders, call on the United Methodist Church to "embody God's love and
justice." Specifically they call on the United Methodist Judicial
Council to reconsider and reverse a recent decision (#1032) in which a
United Methodist pastor was allowed to refuse membership to a gay man
in his congregation.
The group expresses concern that the Judicial Council ruling removes
the denomination's constitutional guarantee of open membership,
deprives lay persons of their rights, and further puts minorities in
the church at risk of discrimination and exclusion.
"Whenever history, tradition, practice and culture declare in deed or
word that some category of persons are less than others, there will be
those who feel they have been given impunity to separate, segregate,
exclude and sometimes harm those persons," according to declaration
signer Rev. Gilbert Caldwell of United Methodists of Color for a Fully
The leaders contend that the recent ruling cannot be viewed in
isolation. Decisions in recent years have served to "enshrine
discriminatory policies" in United Methodist church law, they claim,
ultimately threatening the United Methodist heritage of openness.
Decision 1032 is the next step, say the leaders, on a "slippery slope"
that began with claiming that "homosexuality is incompatible with
Christian teaching" and policies that bar the ordination of
"self-avowed practicing homosexuals."
"The fact that the church has singled out one group of people and
discriminated against them on the basis of their status, in this case
their sexual orientation," says statement signer Jeff Spelman, Chair
of the Reconciling Ministries Network board of directors and lay
delegate to General Conference in 2000, "was bound to lead to the
situation in which we find ourselves today."
"I am confident that a large majority of United Methodists are stunned
and outraged that a ruling by the Judicial Council gives pastors total
authority to grant or deny membership in local congregations," said
Rev. Kathryn Johnson of the Methodist Federation for Social Action.
"It is imperative that we move back from the precipice on which we
find ourselves if we are going to move into the future as a church
which extends God's hospitality and healing grace to the world around us."
The statement ends with a challenge to the United Methodist Church
including a call for Judicial Council Decision 1032 to be reversed, a
call for United Methodist Bishops to advocate for a "fully inclusive
church" and a call for "all discriminatory language" to be removed
from the Book of Discipline at General Conference 2008.
The full statement, signatures can be viewed at:
Here We Stand
P.O. Box 15750
Washington, DC 20003
For more information, contact:
Kathryn Johnson, 202-546-8806 (cell 202-441-5942)
Troy Plummer, 773-736-5526 (cell 773-315-9225)