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Greater NW Pride: Forward Together, Not One Step Back in 2019


Forward Together, Not One Step Back in 2019

In the Raleigh (NC) News and Observer newspaper, one of their traditions is to identify a citizen of NC who is “crowned” as the Tar Heel of the Year. This year, 2018, the Tar Heel of the Year is the Rev. William Barber of Goldsboro, NC.  He is also well-known for his work with the Moral Monday movement, in which many of us—myself included—participated in ongoing rallies in Raleigh, the capitol of NC, protesting against the Tea Party Republican movement that swept into control starting in 2010. There were savage financial cuts to medical programs for the poor, to public schools, relaxing of regulatory laws that protected the environment, and a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, voter suppressions laws, let alone a “bathroom bill,” which was aimed to hurt people who are transgender. In April 2013, I joined a group of 30 people from many churches in the area who, along with Rev. Barber, protested the NC GOP legislation (no Democrats voted for these draconian legislative successes) that were, simply put, immoral. Rev. Barber had been arrested for protesting a week earlier. By the end of the summer, upwards between 3,000-4,000 people protested the legislative programs set-out by the NC GOP, with Rev. Barber as the chief spokesperson. He has since gone on to lead the new Poor People’s Campaign, which many UMC ministers are involved across the US (News and Observer, Dec. 28, 2018).
One of the primary chants during those protests in 2013 and 2014, was “Forward Together, Not One Step Back!” Forward together towards health care for all; for a good education for all; for reproductive rights for all; for marriage equality for all; for making voting easier for all, to protect the environment for all.  When I think about that chant in my work within the OR-ID UMC Conference, it is with the hope that justice will come in 2019, and all will be welcome to serve the wider UMC with the God-given gifts and talents given to all, regardless if one is straight or lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, allied, asexual, or pansexual.  With all the energy behind the national Reconciling network, and other UMC churches choosing to be open and affirming within the UMC, welcoming and including LGBTQ people in the life of a congregation, I hold on to the refrain, “forward together, not one step back” in 2018 and into 2019. Given the current wording in the UMC’s Book of Discipline in regard to LGBTQ people, forward seems to be the only way to go, as going back or staying the same is not going to be an option for the denomination as a whole. As other mainline Protestant churches have discovered, going forward, welcoming and including and giving way to leadership by LGBTQ , is the way of hope, peace, justice, and love. 
As we all say “good-bye” to 2018, join me in the chant: Forward together, not one step back!

Brett Webb-Mitchell
Rev. Dr. Brett Webb-Mitchell is an openly gay Presbyterian pastor in the Portland area serving as the part-time LGBTQ+ advocacy coordinator for The Oregon-Idaho Conference of the UMC. He can be reached at brett@umoi.org. Become a subscriber to the Greater NW Pride blog to get Greater NW Pride in your email box!