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An Open Letter from Members of the Upper New York Annual Conference
To : Bishop Mark Webb, the Appointive Cabinet, the Upper New York Annual Conference Board of Ordained Ministry and Conference Leadership Team,

Our spiritual forefather John Wesley did not expect that we be of one opinion, but of one heart. We, as United Methodists going on to perfection in Christ’s love, reaffirm and strengthen our commitment to holiness of heart and life. It is time that we stand firmly in our Wesleyan heritage by repenting of the harm done to our LGBTQIA+ friends, family and neighbors by the passage of the Traditional Plan.

We rejoice and reaffirm that in 1972 the people called Methodists saw in the dawn of their struggle for equality the need to affirm the LGBTQIA+ community by including these words in The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church:

“Homosexuals no less than heterosexuals are persons of sacred worth, who need the ministry and guidance of the church in their struggles for human fulfillment, as well as the spiritual and emotional care of a fellowship which enables reconciling relationships with God, with others and with self. Further, we insist that all persons are entitled to have their human and civil rights ensured.”

Yet we stubbornly clung to our brokenness when we also included this harmful statement:

“The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching.”

After decades of harm done, we are overdue to repent and reclaim our Wesleyan heritage by no longer endeavoring to cling to our firmly held opinions. Through hearts filled with the grace of God, let us take the hand of our LGBTQIA+ siblings in a United Methodist Church that offers full inclusion without exception in the life and ministry of the church.

Our brother Archbishop Desmond Tutu constantly invited the powerful apartheid government to come to the side of justice, equality and freedom for all. In that spirit, we the people called Methodists in the Upper New York Annual Conference invite those who cling to upholding the unjust laws of the Book of Discipline to come to the side of justice, where Jesus calls us. Our victory is not in our flawed human ways but through Jesus Christ, who loves us all. We invite you to reject closed hearts, minds and doors. Join in a celebration of God’s abundant grace and Jesus’ extravagant welcome for all regardless of any ways that we may disagree or divide ourselves. Bishop Tutu’s wisdom also reminds us that we are only persons though one another. “We belong in a bundle of life.” We need each other to be whole. When we exile our LGBTQIA+ siblings from full inclusion in the United Methodist body, we cannot be whole because a part of our body is missing.

We invite you to fulfill the spirit of our Book of Discipline and, as Wesley encourages, “give me your hand.” Let us get our hearts in order—not our opinions in line—but our hearts right toward our neighbor. Is thy heart right toward thy neighbor? Dost thou love as thyself, all humankind without exception? Is your soul full of goodwill, of tender affection, toward them? Do you love even the enemies of God, the unthankful and unholy? Do your bowels yearn over them?

Indeed, it is time for our bowels, the very depth of our being, to yearn over one another in faith filled with the energy of love.

As fellow travelers on The Way, we invite you to refuse to accept the anti-LGBTQIA+ prohibitions and increased punitive measures in the Traditional Plan.

These unjust laws hold no moral authority. They harm our siblings and our integrity and witness as United Methodists. We invite you to reject the Traditional Plan. Instead embrace the beautiful diversity of life that God created in divine wisdom. Join us, we invite you to embrace inclusion.

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