A Statement of Lament, Confession, and Commitment

We the undersigned clergy of the Florida Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church lament the pain caused by the decisions of the 2019 General Conference, confess our complicity in contributing to the harm done, and commit ourselves to a new expression and connection of Methodism that is fully inclusive of all people, particularly LGBTQ persons, in the full life of the church, including marriage and ministry.

WE LAMENT the harm that the 2019 General Conference and the adoption of the Traditional Plan caused to members of the LGBTQ community, both within and beyond our churches. LGBTQ individuals and families have led, served, and given faithfully in so many of our congregations and communities. In denying marriage and ordination for LGBTQ persons, we are denying the work of God in and through these individuals and relationships.

WE LAMENT the pain to people across the church. In following the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the simple rule of John Wesley, we proclaim that it is time to stop doing harm. While we are grateful for those who tirelessly worked to preserve unity, and are saddened by the rejection of those efforts by the General Conference, we recognize that it is time to stop trying to remain united merely for unity’s sake.

WE LAMENT a United Methodist system that has caused such harm. We mourn an institution, a family we love, that is broken and dying. We feel the heaviness of grief and loss.

WE CONFESS that as pastors we have not helped our congregations to read and study the Bible in a Wesleyan Way, by using scripture, tradition, reason, and experience to draw conclusions about faithful Christian living. We have not helped them realize a diversity of faithful interpretations of the text.

WE CONFESS that we have not spent enough time building relationships with and advocating for all marginalized people. We acknowledge our role in the years of pain, struggle, negligence, and spiritual violence that has led us to this point. For too long, people have been excluded because of race, gender identity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, ability, citizenship, and others not named here, and we have been silent.

WE CONFESS being too complicit in our need for security and our fear of losing safety. We ask forgiveness for too often loving polity more than people.

Yet, WE RECOGNIZE the presence of the Holy Spirit. Like Peter and Cornelius in Acts 10, we recognize the Holy Spirit has already been at work in LGBTQ families, individuals and colleagues. Many serve Jesus faithfully, leading and living out spiritual gifts in ways that build up the Body of Christ. We believe the Spirit has also been at work to transform the structures and systems of our denomination, to create a new wineskin for new wine, for a new day.

Therefore, WE COMMIT ourselves to affirming and participating in what God is already doing. We choose not to be stumbling blocks, choosing instead to live in the joy of life and ministry that fully includes all people, especially our LGBTQ siblings.

WE COMMIT ourselves to discovering and creating a new expression of Methodism that is fully inclusive of our LGBTQ siblings in marriage, ministry and the full life of the church. We believe there may be many ways for this to happen that can be explored by many groups at various levels of our connection. We remain open to possibilities, committing ourselves not to a specific path or plan, but to a direction.

WE COMMIT ourselves to preserving the parts of our Wesleyan Methodist tradition that give life: our evangelical passion for reaching people with the healing love of Jesus Christ, the primacy of God’s grace, and our devotion to the Bible by reading/studying in a thoughtful and Wesleyan way. We commit to preserving our balance of personal piety and social justice, our inclusive diversity, and a passion for transforming the world through lives of intentional discipleship. Most of all, we commit to preserving hearts of love.

WE WILL MOVE FORWARD, not from a place of anger or resentment, but from hearts of grace and a passion for inviting others into the abundant life of Jesus Christ. We will live intentionally, with hearts of love and courage, into an expression of Methodism that is fully inclusive of all marginalized people: persons of color, ages, ability, gender identity, socio-economic status, citizenship and our LGBTQ siblings in Christ.

Over 280 Clergy from Florida have signed in support.
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