we, the undersigned laity of the FLorida Annual Conference of the United Method Church,

are deeply grieved and heartbroken by results of the Special Session of the General Conference in St. Louis. We are guided by the Holy Spirit to present this response to stand with our LGBTQIA+ family in God’s unconditional and unlimited love.

We regret how the United Methodist Church has hurt our LGBTQIA+ family for decades, and how the recent adoption of the Traditional Plan has caused further pain already experienced by the LGBTQIA+ community. We believe the life and teaching of Jesus Christ reflects God’s love for all. We want to ensure all people are included fully in the life of the church as they are and are committed to being inclusive of all God’s children in all aspects in the life of the church.

Those of us who sign below believe that the punitive and exclusive nature of the Traditional Plan is dangerous and divisive as it does not leave any room for people with differing perspectives to be in one United Methodist Church. We are committed to the Wesleyan tradition of practicing God’s grace and sharing Jesus’ all-inclusive love. We are deeply concerned that the legislation passed at the special session is dehumanizing and harmful to LGBTQIA+ communities. We acknowledge that there are theological differences and diverse interpretations of the Bible within the United Methodist Church. We also recognize and respect that our mission fields vary in context and understanding. We wish to remain in dialogue with those who have different voices, and pray that we can become one church together celebrating and respecting the beautiful diversity of all God’s people wherever they may live.

We trust in the transformative power of the Holy Spirit. We are called to stand in solidarity with LGBTQIA+ communities and will collaborate as justice-seekers to make our families, congregations, communities, and conference a safe and welcoming home for all. With a spirit of love, repentance, and compassion, we support and seek the full inclusion of LGBTQIA+ persons in the Body of Christ, including same gender weddings in UMC sanctuaries by our clergy, the ordination of LGBTQIA+ persons, and encouraging all people to utilize their gifts and graces within the United Methodist Church.

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.

In partnership with clergy, 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, socio-economic status, citizenship and especially our LGBTQIA+ family in Christ.

This letter has been signed by over 1800 Laity.
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