We Desist: A Response by Progressive United Methodist Clergy in Texas to the Actions of General Conference 2019
I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line; hail will sweep away your refuge, the lie, and water will overflow your hiding place.
~ Isaiah 28:17
We, the undersigned, desist from any statute—religious or civil—that marginalizes and harms LGBTQIA+ people.
We believe that the statements in the United Methodist Book of Discipline prohibiting the full inclusion and participation of LGBTQIA+ people are immoral. Obedience to these rules causes immeasurable harm to people of sacred worth created in God’s image. Using the Discipline to justify the exclusion of people from full participation requires bishops, district superintendents, pastors, congregations, and boards of ordained ministry to consciously ignore Jesus’ teaching to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Such behavior requires our church to deliberately dismiss the vows we make on behalf of children at their Baptism when we promise to love and uphold them in God’s sacred community.
We do not accept the argument that “we have no choice,” whether from clergy, bishops, district superintendents, congregations, or boards of ordained ministry. We do have a choice—always.
When clergy, bishops, district superintendents, congregations, and boards of ordained ministry choose to ignore Disciplinary restrictions based on a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity, we are choosing to align ourselves with the inclusive love of Christ, as well as with Wesley’s first rule to “do no harm.” We have precedence for such actions. When John Wesley broke ecclesiastical law to ordain two clergy to send to America, he made a choice that could have resulted in his dismissal as an Anglican priest. Wesley, like many justice-seeking Christians throughout history, made such decisions in order to divest from injustice. We must do the same. The plumb line has been set. It is time to come out from the refuge of our straight and ecclesial privilege and do the right thing for the sake of those our church has marginalized.

Jesus did not have the political leverage to overthrow Empire. Instead, he chose to live out a new reality—a new kin-dom—where love rules, where power is shared, and where the voices from the margins informed his moral compass. We are at such a time in the United Methodist Church. Let justice and inclusivity be our rule, even as our beloved church moves in a different direction.

We desist to save lives.
It is no accident that a disproportionate number of youth suicides are LGBTQIA+ persons. It is not a coincidence that a high percentage of young people who experience homelessness are queer. The United Methodist Church’s policies are not an abstract theological issue; they are policies that do great harm, and in the name of Christ. It is time to repent of our sin and to take right action quickly. People’s lives are depending on it.
Therefore: We will not withhold our pastoral responsibilities.
This includes marrying all prepared couples who come to us and wish to join in holy matrimony. We desist from the Traditional Plan. We desist from the current harmful policies stated in the Book of Discipline.
Furthermore: We call upon our bishops, district superintendents, and boards of ordained ministry
to commission, ordain, and appoint clergy without regard to sexual orientation and gender identity, to receive and bless the call of all people who are called by God to serve in the sacred vocation of ministry and who are otherwise qualified for ministry in the United Methodist Church.
To our beloved LGBTQIA+ family: The straight and cisgender among us recognize the ways we have been complicit in harm for too long. We grieve the recent actions of the church and the long history of our discrimination. No matter what lies ahead, we are committing to say we will no longer participate in such actions.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer stated that “silence in the face of evil is itself evil.” Now is our time to speak up for those whom God has claimed are very good. “Not to speak is to speak,” wrote Bonhoeffer. “Not to act is to act.”
Now is the time to create a new expression of Methodism where All Means All and All Are Welcome! No exceptions.
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(This statement's purpose is one of inclusion as a part of the larger witness, calling for a church that is fully inclusive of LGBTQIA+ people.

Signers agree that their title, name, and conference will be listed publicly. Additional information submitted is for the purposes of the letter organizers.

This statement will not be published in conference newsletters or municipal newspapers, but will be shared on social media. You are encouraged to share this statement on social media and within your network of relationships.

The administrator of this statement is The Rev. Dr. Sid Hall, Lead Minister at Trinity Church of Austin in the Río Texas Conference of the UMC. Trinity Church of Austin has been a Reconciling Congregation since 1992.)

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