June commemorates (LGBTQ) Pride Month that is celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan. If you don’t know, the Stonewall Uprising was a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. This movement advocates for LGBTQ rights locally, nationally, and globally. 

United Methodists also support and advocate for equal rights for all persons regardless of sexual orientation. In our Social Principles we boldly state that: 

“Certain basic human rights and civil liberties are due [to] all persons. We are committed to supporting those rights and liberties for all persons, regardless of sexual orientation.

We see a clear issue of simple justice in protecting the rightful claims where people have shared material resources, pensions, guardian relationships, mutual powers of attorney, and other such lawful claims typically attendant to contractual relationships that involve shared contributions, responsibilities, and liabilities, and equal protection before the law.

Moreover, we support efforts to stop violence and other forms of coercion against all persons, regardless of sexual orientation.” (2016 BOD. ❡162.J) 

Additionally, Pride Month celebrates the dignity and worth of all persons, especially LGTBQIA persons. With the exception of one sentence that I find troubling and disagree with (italicized for identification), we, as United Methodists, share in these same values of Pride Month. In our 2016 Book of Discipline, ❡161.G, we prophetically claim (while seemingly contradict ourselves) that: 

“We affirm that all persons are individuals of sacred worth, created in the image of God. All persons need the ministry of the Church in their struggles for human fulfillment, as well as the spiritual and emotional care of a fellowship that enables reconciling relationships with God, with others, and with self. The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching. 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 has 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.” 

All of this has me wondering at the start of Pride Month, am I proud, timid, or something else? 

I celebrate and support Pride and as such I stand in disagreement with our UM Social Principles where it states: “The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching.” I also disagree with the other paragraphs in the Book of Discipline that prohibit LGTBQ ordination and marriages. I am also proud that as United Methodists we value open hearts, minds, and doors to all people, even as we struggle to truly embody that value for all persons. I proudly work within the UMC to call all United Methodists to claim that value and what I find best of our Social Principles most fully. 

At the start of Pride Month, I wonder about UMCG? As a church are we proud, timid, or something else? 

To be honest, I don’t know how to answer on behalf of the church. I find that problematic. I struggle to lead a congregation that lacks declarative clarity on where you stand as a local church in relation to our UMC Social Principles, LGTBQIA Ordination and Marriages. That is something we will need to work through to define together.  

In the meantime, while I am on ASP, Pastor Lisa is helping those interested persons in our congregation and our community to support our own local area Pride celebrations on June 12th

We can support the Family Pride Picnic at Wheeler Park, by donating and preparing food items, setup, clean up and more. Click here to signup to help with the picnic. There is also a chance to share in a United Methodist witness in the Aurora Pride Parade with fellow United Methodist Churches in the Aurora area. You can contact Pastor Lisa for details on participating in the parade.

I want to close with another word of clarity in my pastoral leadership, especially with those who would disagree with me on LGTBQIA inclusion and welcome. I believe in a ‘big tent tradition’ that is inclusive of persons that agree with the current Social Principles and Book of Discipline stances on LGTBQIA Ordination and Marriages and those, who like myself, disagree. In my mind this ‘big tent tradition’ gives space for all persons to hold these disagreements when done so generously, with charity and in all things puts the love of Jesus Christ first and foremost in all relationships. I hold steadfast to the John Wesley teaching “Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may. Herein all the children of God may unite, notwithstanding these smaller differences.” I only think the big tent works as long as we can extend the transforming grace of Jesus Christ to each other, to our neighbors and to the world and give space for people to be authentic and forthcoming about who they are, who they love, and how they are called to serve God. Admittedly, my tent is not big enough to live comfortably with those who would prefer to dominate, oppress, belittle, diminish, or harm those who disagree with them. In all things, I try to honor the sacred worth of all people and consider the chance to serve together in this tent as a holy privilege.