One hundred and eleven ministers from around the world have openly declared themselves as LGBTI in an open letter recently published by an LGBTI advocacy group within the United Methodist Church.
The group, the Reconciling Ministries Network, wants to challenge a ban on so-called “practicing homosexuals” within the church.
“We are coming out as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer/Questioning, and Intersex persons at this moment for several reasons,” the clergy wrote in their letter, titled “A Love Letter To Our Church”.
“We want you to know we still love you and seek to remain in relationship with you.
“Even if we should leave [the Church] and you seek more restrictive language against LGBTQI persons, know that God will continue to move mysteriously in the hearts of LGBTQI young people and adults and will call them to serve within this denomination. You cannot legislate against God’s call.”
The Reconciling Ministries Network’s collective coming out was published shortly before the denomination began a major conference in Portland, Oregon. During the event, international delegates were set to discuss legal modifications to the church’s Book of Discipline, a collection of rules including one prohibiting same-sex practices because they’re “incompatible with Christian teaching”.
“The ‘LGBTQI issue’ is not one that can be resolved through restrictive legislation but instead by seeing that all persons are made in the image of God and welcomed into the community of faith,” the clergy wrote.
The clergy noted the letter does not impede their loyalty to the United Methodist Church.
“We love you, dear church. Through you, we have stood on sacred ground and seen the face of God more clearly,” they wrote.
“Our prayer, as the church begins its time of discernment, is that you will remember that there are nameless ones around the world, hungry for a word of hope and healing.
“LGBTQI people and their families exist in every church in every continent of this denomination.”