UCC Coalition grieves for, and offers support ...
- CALLED OUT INFORMATION SERVICE
For immediate release: May 24, 2000
For information, contact: Mitzi Eilts, 800-653-0799 or
UCC Coalition grieves for, and offers support to, United Methodist
"I know that many members of the United Methodist Church (UMC) believe
in a liberating, inclusive gospel--their tradition is rich in such a
faith. And so, like many of my UMC friends and colleagues, I continue to
believe that this denomination will one day soon come to affirm all the
faithful among them," said the Rev. Mitzi Eilts, in response to the events
surrounding this month's UMC General Conference in Cleveland, Ohio. Eilts is
national coordinator of The United Church of Christ Coalition for Lesbian,
Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns.
At the May 2-12, 2000, UMC General Conference, delegates reaffirmed
restrictive provisions that continue to exclude lesbian, gay, bisexual, and
transgender (lgbt) people from full participation in the life and ministry
of the UMC. These decisions were made despite a powerful witness offered by
Methodist lgbt activists and their allies which ranged from letter-writing
to civil disobedience and arrest on May 10-11, 2000.
The arrests included United Methodist Bishop C. Joseph Sprague and
Bishop Susan Morrison, civil right leaders, members and clergy of the
UMC and their allies, and Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mohandas Gandhi. The Rev.
David Bahr, pastor of Archwood United Church of Christ in
Cleveland, was arrested during the May 10 demonstration coordinated by
Soulforce outside the conference site. He reported, "It was an
overwhelming experience. We felt empowered by the Spirit for having
courage to stand against injustice."
Eilts adds, "I come away from those 10 long days with a vivid image of
lgbt people and our allies lifted boldly and strongly to witness to the
sense of God's love as paramount in all our lives. Despite the votes to
continue to exclude lgbt people from full participation in the life and
ministry of the United Methodist Church, the image which looms largest from
the conference is one of God's banquet table growing bigger and wider, more
diverse. No vote of any institution can take that away from us.
"Paradoxically, I am very saddened and angry with the decisions of the
United Methodist church this month. Amazed am I at the perseverance and the
patience and the courage of my UMC sisters/brothers/all who are going on
despite the rejection of a majority of their own faith
community. That speaks to the depth of their faith and conviction --
courage which in my experience comes to us and from us, only when we
have wrestled long and hard. Only when God works God's wondrous love in us
can we bear such persecution, stand next to those who call us
unworthy, and stay on the road together. My faith has been renewed in
the witnessing I have seen and heard about at UMC General Conference."
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