Greater NW Pride: Solidarity in Love for and with LGBTQ+ United Methodist Clergy and Members


Solidarity in Love for LGBTQ+ United Methodist Clergy and Members

In Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church, the pastoral part of Paul talks about the incredible nature of the body of Christ in terms of the interconnectedness and solidarity we are to practice with one another. What came to mind as I watched the decisions being made by the delegates of the United Methodist Church’s General Conference (UMC-GC), are these verses: “But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it” (1 Cor. 12:24-26). 
What Paul is calling for is our ability to stretch our awareness of life beyond our family, our friends, and our community.  Paul is challenging us to be mindful and extend our compassion to those who suffer or who are to be honored, even if we have not and will never meet. This practice rebuilds our awareness of the interrelationship of all things. Within that interrelationship we will find solidarity with the pain and the hope of the world.
Solidarity can be defined as unity which is generated by or based upon a community’s shared interests, objectives, and/or standards (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). As people of the Christian faith, we have the God-given ability to expand our reach and discover in what imaginative ways we can align ourselves with and love others who are vulnerable, oppressed, and isolated as members of Christ’s body.
Today, my friends in the UMC who are LGBTQ+ clergy, lay members, and laity are the ones who are vulnerable, oppressed, and isolated as members of Christ’s body, as constituted by the UMC. By the delegates of the General Conference promoting and accepting the “unconstitutional” and “modified” Traditional Plan, the message that “homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching,” and strictures upon any “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” continues to be in the UMC Book of Discipline. Nothing changes. 
Dear LGBTQ+ clergy, lay leaders, laity, of the UMC: I, along with hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ+ clergy, lay leaders, and laity in other mainline denominations and other religions stand in solidarity with you. You are not alone in this struggle for justice, for living healthy, whole, and complete lives as out-queer clergy. Again: you are not alone. 
It is obvious that there is a dis-ease in parts of the body of Christ, as constituted by the United Methodist Church, especially when it comes to LGBTQ people. The vulnerability, oppression, and isolation can only be “cured” by all of us—LGBTQ clergy, religious leaders, leaders and ordinary folk—standing in solidarity in an agape-style of love. This is the love modeled by Jesus, who also had to bread down the then-current religious structure that oppressed God’s people, and is now breathing in the body of Christ through the Spirit. So, this day, as the LGBTQ Advocacy Coordinator for the OR-ID Conference, stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ members in this Conference and beyond, promoting love systemically and love structurally.  And let us make that commitment, to stand in love, and with love, with our LGBTQ colleagues, day in and day out, doing justice, practicing loving kindness, walking humbly with God (Micah 6:8), until all are welcome, openly able to serve the God they love, and share the love of Christ with others, in the UMC and beyond.

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!