In 2016, a resolution Supporting Harm Reduction for LGBTQ Teens was presented to the Annual Conference and a motion was made and approved to refer the resolution to the Alabama-West Florida Board of Church & Society. This year, the Board of Church and Society reported back that they have established a “three-part series of Courageous Conversations...to learn how to have healthy conversations with each other.” The sessions will include discussion of bullying in general and lead to specific conversations on LGBTQ bullying. Read the full report on page 140 here.
In addition, Reconciling Friends of AWF sponsored a refreshment break on the Tuesday morning of Annual Conference. It is believed that this was the first time there was a visible, public, authorized Reconciling presence at AWF AC. Also, in another first, there was a Reconciling Breakfast that was publicly advertised with about 25 people present.
During discussion of Conference Amendment #2, an argument was made against the amendment on the fear that gender equality may result in the church’s support of trans and non-binary people, invoking the recent commissioning of Rev. M Barclay, a non-binary trans deacon. Rev. Andy Oliver took a moment of personal privilege to speak out against trans discrimination and affirm the purpose and value of trans people in The United Methodist Church. Watch the video of his speech here.
Additionally, Methodist Federation for Social Action invited RMN to share a table and partner in a dinner where attendees were able to hear from Alice Williams, one of three openly gay or lesbian members of the Commission on A Way Forward.
Local RUMs set up a table in the ministry area, and a tent outside the auditorium where free water was provided and chairs for conversation set out where fruitful conversations took place. There was also an informal gathering with conversation at the home of one of the Holston Reconciling United Methodists with about 30 in attendance.
This year, for the first time, the Reconciling group in Holston Annual Conference held an early morning Reconciling Worship Service in the Chapel at Lake Junaluska, with about 60+ people in attendance. View the service here.
The Reconciling Friends of Kentucky AC hosted a dinner at a Broadway UMC in Bowling Green. About 35 people attended and heard from Rev Alexis Chase, daughter of one of the organizers of the KY Reconciling group who heard a call to ministry which she could not pursue in The UMC - she is now an Episcopal priest doing phenomenal ministry in Atlanta.
On June 5th, members of St. John's UMC in midtown Memphis gave the Memphis Annual Conference attendees a taste of their weekly service of recovery called The Way.
Since 2010, the congregation of St. John's has opened its doors each Friday night to provide a meal followed by The Way: a celebration that includes prayer, testimony on each of the "12 steps,” and music provided by a rotation of local Memphis musicians.
"The Way" worship celebration at Annual Conference was especially joyful for the 30-40 St. John's members attending worship, as St. John's had voted to affiliate with RMN as a Reconciling Congregation two weeks prior. Recognizing that there are some LGBTQ persons who are in recovery because they've tried to escape the pain and fear of rejection by family, community, and church, the St. John's congregation feels especially driven to live out its call to extend welcome and hospitality to ALL people.
Reconciling friends gathered for pre-Conference drinks and conversation at a local restaurant - it was great to see so many friendly faces, new friends and old ones! The table at AC was well visited, and many good conversations happened and new RUMs were added. It was also good to be present for the Constitutional Amendment votes which occurred without any harmful discussion, and to witness the widespread lament and concern around the recent departure of two large non-affirming churches in the Conference.
Over 25 friends gathered for breakfast and conversation at Trinity UMC in Huntsville. The RMN table was opposite the registration area so there was a lot of great opportunity for fruitful conversations!
The NC RMN and MFSA groups collaborated as usual to host the Gayle Felton Love Your Neighbor luncheon, with 100 people in attendance.
North Georgia groups gathered for worship to begin the annual conference together. Rev. Will Green (NEAC) was the guest preacher and Revs Mandy Sloan McDow and Lori Osborne presided at the table. Nearly 70 people attended this service with a vibrant processional and reflection on living into our somewhat outrageous calling to live fully alive and challenging the church.
On the following day, Rev. Green offered a challenge to find hope in Christ rather than in institutions. Almost 50 people attended this Reconciling Luncheon.
South Carolina Reconciling United Methodists gathered together for the annual Reconciling Ministries Breakfast at SC Annual Conference. The breakfast was held at First Baptist Church and Dr. Jim Lane, chair of RMSC greeted and welcomed us all into the space. Rev. Dr. Jim Dant, senior pastor at First Baptist, shared his heartfelt welcome to RUMs, offering spiritual solidarity and appreciation of the work for reconciling inclusion. Rev. Tom Summers, Rev. Keith Ray, and Danielle Riechers (a high school student) each shared stories of courage, strength, hope and resilience. Rev. Liam Hooper, RMN’s transgender community organizer, provided an update for RMN and reiterated the commitment to nothing less than the full inclusion of LGBTQ persons in The UMC. There were over 100 people in attendance. Read more about this event here.
For the first time in many years, the conference allowed a Reconciling table.
United Methodists for Inclusion hosted a dinner which 100+ people attended where RMN Southeastern Regional Organizer, Helen Ryde, was the speaker.
The Reconciling group in Virginia hosted a dinner with 85 people in attendance. Rev Tom Berlin, elder in the VA Conference and member of the Commission on a Way Forward was the featured speaker and took time to answer questions from the audience.
Western North Carolina
213 people came to the Reconciling Worship Service and and about 50 attended the Reconciling Luncheon where RMN's Southeastern Regional Organizer, Helen Ryde, and Kim Ingram were the featured speakers.
Twenty-five Reconciling United Methodists attended a gathering for food, fellowship, and storytelling in the midst of Annual Conference events. On the final day, the opening prayer was led by a member of the Reconciling leadership team. It was the first year for lay people to lead the corporate prayer, and the first one led by someone in a Reconciling stole.
Nearly 50 Reconciling United Methodists gathered for fellowship over dinner where they heard from RMN South Central Regional Organizer Laura Young. They discussed the state of the movement, what’s ahead, how to get involved, and celebrated the persistent acts of courage embodied by lay and clergy RUMs.
Rev. Cynthia Meyer’s involuntary leave of absence, a consequence of the “just resolution” reached August of 2016 was approved in Clergy session with little to no discussion. Many of the clergy did silently stand in love to honor her and others during the vote. Her stole was placed on a chair on the floor of the conference for two days. The remainder of the time it resided at the RMN booth.
More than 80 Reconciling United Methodists gathered for a conversation entitled, “A Way Forward: In the Meantime” featuring keynote speaker, RMN’s South Central Regional Organizer Laura Young, and a guest appearance via skype of Dave Nuckols, RMN board member who is also on the Commission.
A workshop entitled “Share, Listen and Learn: How to Have a Reconciling (LGBTQ+) Conversation at Your Church” was held with standing room only.
No LGBTQ related actions reported.
No LGBTQ related actions reported.
No LGBTQ related actions reported.
Mosaic UMC handed out RMN stoles; Mainstream United Methodist hosted a breakfast and a worship service with Mosaic UMC which was intentionally a progressive minded worship experience open to all.
Over eighty Rio Texas United Methodist clergy and lay members participated in a witness before the start of the second day of plenary, singing “What Does the Lord Require of You” while standing outside of the plenary hall, greeting delegates as they entered. Additionally, Rio Texas RUMs continued the now four-year tradition wearing all black clothing with a rainbow stole while standing in silent witness for the blessings during the ordination and commissioning service. The Rio Texas RUMs will continue to create safe spaces for all in their conference and will continue to stand until LGBTQ+ persons called to ministry in the Rio Texas Conference can have their fruits for ministry fairly discerned.
Over 250 Reconciling United Methodists attended at lunch featuring Rev. Dr. Cedrick Bridgeforth. Listen to his talk below.
A Building an Inclusive Church workshop was held as a pre-AC event. A Reconciling dinner and open forum was held where more than thirty individuals gathered. Two LGBTQ related resolutions were referred to the Alaska UMC Leadership team in order to allow church time to study the resolutions before making a decision.
The California-Nevada Conference Committee on Reconciliation (CCOR) held its annual gathering with featured guest speaker Rev. Brian Adkins. Over 130 Reconciling United Methodists were in attendance!
In addition, resolutions titled Resolution Affirming LGBTQIA+ Clergy, Resolution Affirming Western Methodist Justice Movement’s Statement to the Commission on a Way Forward, Support of the Election of Bishop Karen Oliveto, Support for California Assembly Bill 1732 (single-use gender neutral restrooms), Resolution Opposing North Carolina “Bathroom Act,” and a Resolution on Transgender Justice were adopted and can be read in full here.
Three openly LGBTQ persons were commissioned/ordained: Rev. Matthew Alexander Pearson (ordained elder), Rev. Caiti Hamilton (commissioned elder), and Rev. Kenneth Schoon (commissioned deacon). Rev. Schoon has navigated the ordination process as an openly gay man and faced a number of barriers because of it. Read some of his story here. We celebrate the courage and persistence of LGBTQ people who remain faithful to their call despite the challenges they face!
The California-Pacific Conference approved a shorter but similar motion passed earlier in the year by the Denmark Annual Conference. Denmark appealed to the Judicial Council to make a declaratory ruling on the constitutionality of the sentence, “homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” Read the full motion from Denmark here.
Rev. James Dwyer told UMNS that he made the motion in Cal Pac because, “It's a widely expressed opinion in the Western Jurisdiction that the central conferences and certain parts of the U.S. church are preventing us from moving forward in the inclusion of gays and lesbians in ministry. For me it was important for the Cal-Pac Conference to know that a central conference annual conference, in Denmark, was also speaking in a sense that our conference would agree with.” Read the UMNS interview here.
In addition, resolutions titled Resolution Affirming LGBTQIA+ Clergy, Resolution Affirming Western Methodist Justice Movement’s Statement to the Commission on a Way Forward, and Petition the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops to Convene a Special Western Jurisdictional Conference were all adopted on the consent calendar. The conference’s MFSA and RMN groups also hosted their joint annual dinner during the conference.
We rejoice at the commissioning of Rev. Kimberly Scott as an elder. Rev. Scott is a member of the Queer Clergy Caucus and currently serves at First UMC of Phoenix, Arizona. She also assumes leadership of the conference’s Welcoming and Reconciling Committee.
A resolution titled, “About Book of Discipline Paragraph 2702.1b Entitled Chargeable Offenses and the Statute of Limitations--Living within the Discipline While Moving Forward with Ministry: The Sense of the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference (2014)” was renewed with a slight amendment. Read the resolution on page 45 here.
The conference also passed resolutions affirming LGBTQ clergy and expressing support for the statement of the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops in response to Judicial Council Decision 1341. The Oregon-Idaho and Pacific Northwest RUMs hosted a meet and greet reception attended by over 100 people.
A petition entitled “Affirming LGBTQI clergy” which recognized that “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex clergy have made important contributions to our conference, faithfully serving churches in appointments, and have worked diligently and prayerfully ‘to create disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world,’ bringing unique gifts and grace to the people they serve” was passed. Read the full petition on page 4 here.
Additionally, a petition entitled, “Affirming Western Jurisdiction Council of Bishop’s response to Judicial Council and the Western Jurisdiction’s commitment to inclusive ministry” was also passed. Read the petition on page 1 here. The Oregon-Idaho and Pacific Northwest RUMs hosted a meet and greet reception attended by over 100 people.
The youth brought a petition named "Standing United and Embracing Our Differences." While not directly addressing LGBTQ issues, it called for engaging "in intentional dialogue and conversation" at a local church level, as well as between the boards and agencies of the Conference about understanding diversity and embracing difference. The petition was passed and can be read here. Speeches of personal privilege were given in support of the statement of the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops in response to Judicial Council Decision 1341 and the election of Bishop Karen Oliveto, as well as urging the bishops to convene a special Western Jurisdictional Conference to receive and discuss the report of the Commission on a Way Forward.
For the first time in many years, a formal conference Reconciling dinner was attended by about 50 Reconciling United Methodists. The guest speaker was the Rev. Dr. Joretta Marshall, dean of Brite Divinity School and an out LGBTQ clergy. Music was provided by “Harmony”, a local LGBTQ chorale. Ministry opportunities were shared by Denver’s PFLAG executive director, and Rev. Laura Rossbert of Dolores Project.
Speeches of personal privilege were given in support of the statement of the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops in response to Judicial Council Decision 1341 and the election of Bishop Karen Oliveto, and urging the bishops to convene a special Western Jurisdictional Conference to receive and discuss the report of the Commission on a Way Forward. Reconciling United Methodists hosted a pre-conference dinner reception and a Reconciling breakfast/Q&A attended by over 50 people.
Reconciling United Methodists hosted a table offering hospitality and resources
Resolution 2017-04, "Christian Behavior Toward GLBTQ People" encouraged the conference to act with love toward our LGBTQ siblings in the midst of theological differences. It was approved by a wide margin after substantial discussion. A motion made from the floor to suspend the rules for a special delegate election in advance of 2019 was referred to the rules committee. Read the full resolution on page 73 here.
Additionally, Reconciling United Methodists held an Open Table with over 250 people gathering with invited speaker Bishop Sally Dyck (NIC).
Illinois Great Rivers
Reconciling Ministries of Illinois partnered with MFSA and other justice seekers for the annual justice dinner. Fifty people attended the event, “A Place at the Table,” with a focus on inclusion and disability.
A resolution was considered to "Help end suicide and homelessness among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning (LGBTQ) youth." In discussion of the resolution, amendments were made to broaden the focus beyond LGBTQ youth. Alisa Isaacs Bailey spoke powerfully about why it's important we name specifically the LGBTQ community, even as the church should certainly care about suicide and homelessness among all people. The resolution (read the original, unamended version here) was amended to clarify that the concern applies to all young people, including LGBTQ persons, and then passed. Watch the video of Alisa’s speech here.
Reconciling Ministries of Indiana’s annual dinner hosted RMN Board member Dave Nuckols, who spoke about the make-up and work of the Commission on a Way Forward; about 90 people were in attendance.
The Executive Committee of the Iowa Conference Board of Ordained Ministry took action in response to two recent Judicial Council rulings by stating they would not discriminate against candidates for ministry based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Read the full statement from the Executive Committee here.
Thirty-four clergy participated in a renewal of vows service for a gay couple from Des Moines just outside the hall where Annual Conference was held. View the service here.
Rev. Chuck Layton publicly came out on the floor of the Iowa Annual Conference. Listen to his powerful testimony here.
Rev. Anna Blaedel received an award from Iowa MFSA for their integrity and courage as they have navigated two complaint processes over the last year.
In addition, a resolution that pushed back against Judicial Council ruling #1032 was ruled out of order. This resolution had previously been adopted by the Iowa Annual Conference and was up for renewal. It encouraged churches and pastors not to discriminate in receiving members. Read the resolution on page 96 here.
A resolution entitled “Christian behavior towards LGBTQ persons” which included a resolve to condemn and oppose “all kinds of hate, physical violence, threats of violence, and name-calling as un-Christian and wrong” was passed via the consent calendar. Read the full resolution on page 82 here.
Kelly Dunn, a Reconciling United Methodist, hosted two informal Building an Inclusive Church info sessions during Annual Conference. These trainings were open to any attendees of Annual Conference.
Dave Nuckols was also invited to speak with Reconciling United Methodists during their annual gathering.
On June 4th, Bishop Sally Dyck commissioned Rev. M Barclay as the first non-binary trans and queer deacon in The United Methodist Church. In 2016, the Board of Ordained Ministry of the Northern Illinois Annual Conference committed itself to non-discrimination against LGBTQ candidates for ministry. Read more about Rev. Barclay’s commissioning here.
Additionally, RMN and MFSA held a joint gathering that attracted over 130 individuals. Rev. Traci Blackmon, Justice and Witness Executive for UCC., was the keynote speaker. Rev. M Barclay and JFON of NIC both received awards.
United Voices for Children also awarded Lorena Cory of First UMC Arlington Heights the Bishop Jesse R. DeWitt Child Advocacy Award for her work as the founder of Pinwheels, a support group for families with gender creative children. Lorena started Pinwheels in March 2011 out of her family’s needs. Since then, this unique support group has steadily grown to more than 100 members meeting monthly in two locations. Read more about her award and program here.
At the clergy session a non-binding resolution called for clergy to refrain from making complaints against colleagues regarding “homosexual behavior” until after General Conference 2019. The resolution also called for delay in decisions regarding congregations departing from The UMC until after the 2019 GC.
Additionally, over 150 Reconciling United Methodists gathered together for programming with a focus on unpacking the meaning and purpose of covenant.
A resolution “ Support of the Wisconsin Board of Ordained Ministry and Support of Non-Compliance” was offered before being ruled out of order by the Bishop. Read the full resolution on page 16 here.
Additionally, Kairos Co-Motion hosted a gathering with Reconciling United Methodists.
In 2016, the clergy session of the conference voted not to accept the recommendation of the Board of Ordained Ministry to commission T.C. Morrow as a deacon candidate because of her sexual orientation. Though the Board recommended T.C. for commissioning once again early in 2017, they suspended their recommendation before Annual Conference based on the 2017 Judicial Council ruling regarding same-sex marriage. Due to the ongoing policies and practices of discrimination in the church, T.C. was not commissioned this year.
During the clergy session of the Annual Conference, Rev. Dr. J. Philip Wogaman used a moment of personal privilege to surrender his clergy credentials. Citing T.C. Morrow and others who have been kept from fulfilling their calling due to discriminatory policies and practices, Rev. Dr. Wogaman stated, “This case in the Baltimore-Washington Conference has brought home how a gifted person of high Christian character can be excluded from ordained ministry because of bad church law, applied legalistically and hurtfully. This person, and many like her, have been excluded from the company of ordained clergy. I had to ask myself, how can I continue to be a part of that company when such people are excluded.” Read the full statement here.
The following resolutions were submitted and tabled:
Resolution Relating to Full Inclusion of LGBTQ Persons in The United Methodist Church: -- Ordination Equality
Resolution Relating to Full Inclusion of LGBTQ Persons in The United Methodist Church: -- Marriage Equality
Stopping Church Trials: A Moratorium Within the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference
Work of the Special Commission to General Conference on a Way Forward and the Unity of the Church
The following resolutions were withdrawn:
Work of the Special Commission to General Conference on a Way Forward, if no Plan of Unity is achievable
Resolution Relating to Interview & Presentation Standards for Candidates for Ministry
Resolution Relating to Religious Freedom
The following resolutions were not approved:
Resolution on Religious Liberty and Freedom of Conscience
Greater New Jersey
A resolution entitled, “A Plea for Obedience and Unity” was brought before the conference. The resolution resolved “that the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference fully supports the church's sexual ethics and its teachings on marriage; it encourages its boards and agencies to abide by them, and its bishop to enforce them.”
Arguments were made against the resolution citing the fact that it simply reaffirms what is already within the Discipline. Rev. Amanda Hemenetz moved for it to be tabled until the Way Forward Commission report; motion to table was overwhelmingly supported with no further discussion. Read the full resolution on page 78 here.
Additionally, about 150 people attended a Reconciling communion service held for the first time within the main hall.
No LGBTQ related actions reported.
Following the leadership of Methodists in New Directions (MIND) and the United Methodist Queer Clergy Caucus, the New York Conference voted to have a new election for delegates to the special called General Conference in 2019. Recognizing the need for LGBTQ people to lead the vote and discussion on conversation pertaining to LGBTQ people, the NY Conference will be presented with the opportunity to intentionally elect LGBTQ delegates.
The following petitions were all passed via the consent calendar:
Petition 2017 #AC401 titled "Begin to Heal Injustice against Gay Clergy in the New York AC" addressed the need for repentance for the harm done to Rev. Dr. Clarence Edward Egan and Rev. Paul Abels. Read it on page 56 here.
Petition 2017 #AC403 titled "A Way Forward Together" was a co-sponsored piece aimed at tracing the progression of legislative markers for the full inclusion of LGBTQI+ persons within NYAC. Read it on page 61 here.
Petition 2017 #AC402 titled "One in Christ for the Transformation of the World" was drafted the by the UM Queer Clergy Caucus asking for the entire conference to affirm LGBTQI+ Clergy persons and ministries. Read it on page 59 here.
A resolution entitled “Rejecting ‘religious freedom’ as a means of discrimination” failed with a vote of 194-212. Read the resolution on page 1 here.
A resolution entitled “Resolution for reducing harm for LGBTQ children and youth” was heavily amended, removing its intent and replacing it with other language. Read the resolution before its amendments on page 2 here.
In 2016, Bishop Jeremiah Park established a working group to facilitate conversations concerning LGBTQ justice and inclusion across the Annual Conference. Approximately a dozen people are on the team, including a number of LGBTQ persons. Over the last year they held about 10 meetings across the conference. During this Annual Conference, the team was able to report back on their work, emphasizing the need for more open dialogue on the subject.
Upper New York
A resolution “that the Upper New York Conference fully supports The United Methodist Church’s stance on sexual ethics and its teaching on marriage; it encourages its boards and agencies to abide by them, and its Bishop to enforce them" was withdrawn. Read it on page 89 here.
A resolution titled “Rebuke and Repudiation of the Wesleyan Covenant Association” which sought to resolve that “the UNYAC seeks unity, not maintained through forced conformity or selective scriptural literalism, but rather in ways that embody God’s love, compassion, healing presence and rejection of evil, injustice, and oppressive domination systems.” This resolution was not supported. Read it in full on page 96 here.
A new resolution on "Maintaining Unity and Not Supporting Division Efforts" was supported.
The West Virginia Annual Conference passed a resolution encouraging the conference to pray for the Commission on A Way Forward. The resolution requests that the delegation hold listening events within each district.
A petition entitled, “A Limitation on Conference and District Boards of Ordained Ministry Policies” which resolved “that the Western PA Conference applauds our Conference and District Boards of Ordained Ministry for not following in the example set by the New York Annual Conference's Board of Ordained Ministry's policy but rather staying true to the stipulations of the Book of Discipline” was ruled out of order. Read the full petition on page 417 here.
In addition, a petition entitled “A Petition Against Actions of Non-Conformity,” which resolved “that the Western PA Conference expresses its profound disagreement with the call to non-conformity made by the Northeast Jurisdictional Conference as well as those made by other Jurisdictions and Annual Conferences in our United Methodist connection,” and “that the Western PA Conference calls on its sibling Conferences in the Northeast Jurisdiction to prayerfully practice faithfulness to the provisions of The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church - 2016 which pertain to sexual behaviors, particularly as they relate to United Methodist clergy and candidates for ministry…” was also ruled out of order. Read the full petition on page 485 here.
Reconciling United Methodists also hosted a gathering where David Nuckols was the featured speaker.