Conference Hires LGBTQ+ Advocacy Coordinator
Rev. Dr. Brett Webb-Mitchell has been hired as the LGBTQ+ Advocacy Coordinator for the Oregon-Idaho Conference, beginning Feb. 23. Webb-Mitchell’s half-time position is fully funded by a grant from The Collins Foundation.
“Having someone with Brett’s skills and experience gives our annual conference the opportunity to live into our vision of being a more fully inclusive community.Through the vision and generosity of The Collins Foundation, and their on-going commitment to the United Methodist Church, we are able to further this important ministry," said Rev. Lowell Greathouse, coordinator of mission and ministry for the Oregon-Idaho Conference.
The Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference has had a long-standing relationship with The Collins Foundation, which has provided the conference with financial support to fund ministry excellence, training and leadership development, and numerous other programs since the 1950s. In 2015, through the encouragement of The Collins Foundation, as well as the support of the Ministry Leadership Team, the conference began including LGBTQ funded projects in the annual grant requests their ongoing work. Since then, a portion of the grant funding has been used to: build stronger relationships with international partners in the church, provide training for local congregations on welcoming ministries for LGBTQ people, and advocate for full inclusion in The United Methodist Church.
Rev. Webb-Mitchell brings with him a broad background and a wide range of experience to this work. Brett was an Assistant Professor of Christian Nurture at Duke Divinity School, is a pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA), and has served in many diverse local church settings. In addition, he has written widely on subjects ranging from accessibility to Christian growth, from the practice of pilgrimage to what it means to be a gay parent. His books include: Practicing Pilgrimage; Beyond Accessibility; Being a Gay Parent: Making a Future Together; The School of the Pilgrim; and Follow Me: Christian Growth on the Pilgrim’s Way. Brett and his partner, Dean, have been together for 22 years and have two adult children.
In this new position Webb-Mitchell will provide staffing support to a number of initiatives, including a series of conversations on human sexuality requested by the Council of Bishops for each annual conference, an international dialog and listening session with leaders and delegates from the US and United Methodist Central Conferences, and support for ongoing conversations such as the "Called to Love" workshops on offering welcome to all in United Methodist Churches. Many of these activities are conducted in partnership with the Love Your Neighbor Coalition.
“Being an openly gay minister in the Presbyterian Church and knowing the United Methodist Church, I thought this was such a novel experience,” Webb-Mitchell said. “This will be a great opportunity to bring the hope of Jesus Christ to another denomination.”
This work continues the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference’s longstanding efforts related to full inclusion, which includes voting to be a reconciling conference in 1996, passing a resolution in support of all loving relationships in 2014, and the annual conference Board of Ordained Ministry and clergy sessions vote in 2016 to welcome ministerial applicants of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
The United Methodist Church has stated that all people are of sacred worth, but is divided over acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer persons in leadership via ordained ministry. The 2016 General Conference established a Commission on a Way Forward to develop a proposal that allows the denomination to move forward from differently held beliefs. Their report to the Council of Bishops will be the focus of a special called session of the General Conference in February of 2019. Rev. Webb-Mitchell’s position will work with the various dynamics involved in this entire process.
For more information and resources:
- The Collins Foundation partnership with the Oregon-Idaho Conference (2014).
- The Collins Foundation grant supports leadership and inclusion (2016).
- Bishops set date for special 2019 General Conference.
- The UMC denomination’s position on homosexuality.