I bid you grace and peace from the Lord Jesus Christ. I appreciate your passion for social justice for all people and your letter of concern specifically on behalf of all LGBT members in the church. I agree that we are in a time of turmoil over differences in opinion and theology with regard to human sexuality.
I ask you to:
work to build relationships with those, who are Christians like yourself,
who believe differently than you do theologically.
that there is pain and hurt on both sides of this house.
for God’s grace that we might build bridges of unity and conversation
through the power ofthe Holy Spirit.
- Acknowledge that a good many statements in our Book of Discipline are positive and nondiscriminatory: Paragraph 162J – Certain basic human rights and civil liberties are due all persons. We are committed to supporting those rights and liberties for all persons, regardless of sexual orientation. Paragraph 162-III – We support the basic rights of all people to equal access to housing, education, communication, employment, medical care, legal redress for grievances, and physical protection. We deplore acts of hate or violence against groups or persons based on race, color, national origin, ethnicity, age, gender, disability, status, economic condition, sexual orientation, gender identity or religious affiliation. Paragraph 161 F - All persons, regardless of age, gender, marital status, or sexual orientation, are entitled to have their human and civil rights ensured and to be protected against violence. Paragraph 161 F (further states) We affirm that all persons are individuals of sacred worth created in the image of God. We affirm that God’s grace is available to all. We will seek to live together in Christian community, welcoming, forgiving and loving one another, as Christ as loved and accepted us. We implore families and churches not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends. We commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons.
- Acknowledge that the church trial created a great deal of public outcry against the UM position around this social issue. Much positive attention has been given to progressive position as a result of the trial and that some would like to continue to see more trials for that reason.
- Acknowledge that I am bishop to all and am called to the unconditional love extended to the spectrum of theological perspectives.
LGBT sisters and brothers are of sacred worth regardless of their sexual
orientation(Paragraph 161F) or gender identity.
statements in our Book of Discipline are discriminatory (forbidding
ordination of homosexual persons, forbidding the performing of
same-gender marriages and considering the practice of homosexuality
incompatible with Christian teaching).
There appear to be contradictions between the many affirming statements
(mentioned earlier) and these statements. This has led to confusion by many
from the outside of the church wondering how we can talk out of two sides of
- Church trials around the chargeable offenses that relate to the LGTB community are not helpful. They use time, resources, and energy that could be better used for the ministry of the church. I will continue to try in every way, as far as it depends on me, to not have church trials.
- I will commit to continuing to call the church to its main mission: preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world, making disciples and transforming the world through the power of the spirit.
Peggy A. Johnson, Bishop