A Response to GC 2019 from North Georgia Annual Conference Laity
Many North Georgia Clergy bravely signed their names to a paid advertisement placed in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution immediately after GC 2019. As laity, we seek to support those clergy with our own statement, and to give courage to those who find themselves in communities of faith where their understanding of God's universal inclusion is a minority position. We have adapted the excellent statement from the Clergy and Laity of the Virginia Annual Conference (https://anewthingva.com) to be specific to our context as laity in the North Georgia Annual Conference. We will release this letter on the last day of Annual Conference.

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In honor of the ministry we share in and lament over the continued discrimination and exclusion of LGBTQIA+ people from the full life of our church, we, the undersigned laity of the North Georgia Annual Conference, commit ourselves to working for a changed church that fully reflects God’s love and longing for all people.

Recognizing we have broken Wesley’s first General Rule to “do no harm” and also that God’s extravagant grace enables us to repent and to reconcile broken relationships, as God is reconciling all of creation to God’s self (2 Corinthians 5: 18-19), we are called to proclaim our dissent and our belief.

We refuse to uphold any exclusionary provisions against LGBTQIA+ Christians. We reject the notion that the lives of LGBTQIA+ people are “incompatible” with Christian discipleship. The God we know in Christ Jesus astounded and challenged people by eating with those deemed sinners in his day (Luke 19:1-10), by offering God’s grace and healing at times considered inopportune (Mark 3:1-6), and by accepting comfort and love even when it interrupted the proceedings or offended the faithful (Luke 7:36-50). As faithful followers of Christ our Lord, we strive to be as connected to and invested in our communities as Jesus was in his.

Our love and understanding of scripture, our reliance on the breadth and depth of Christian tradition, our prayerful reflection on our lived experience, and our God-given reason, all conspire with the Holy Spirit to breathe new life and understanding into old debates. We affirm the diversity of sexual orientations and gender expressions that God has created and called good (Genesis 1:26-31) and we commit ourselves to live faithfully out of this understanding, especially in this uncertain time.


Call to Ministry

Because we are living into obedience to our baptismal vows to “accept the freedom and power God gives us to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves,”

Because everyone is baptized without regard to their sexual orientation or gender/gender identity/gender expression, and

Because the call to licensed, commissioned, or ordained ministry flows from the waters of baptism,

We therefore recognize, nurture, welcome, mentor, and celebrate everyone called by God into the fullness of licensed, commissioned, or ordained ministry.

We urge our Board of Ordained Ministry, District Committees on Ministry, and local congregations to recommend qualified candidates for ministry, without respect to their gender/gender identity/gender expression or sexual orientation, and to refrain from using criteria that exclude persons solely on this basis. When called to serve on these committees ourselves, we will support candidates and make our recommendations in this manner.


Marriage

Because scripture teaches us that we are all created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-28a), bestowed with the good and holy gift of sexuality (Song of Songs 4), and created to live in covenantal relationship with God and one another (John 13:34-35), and

Because, as with the call to ministry, marriage vows flow from the waters of baptism and because marriage is a means of grace,

We are also called to recognize, affirm, and celebrate the covenant of marriage between any two persons who meet the commitments and standards for marriage, regardless of their gender/gender identity/gender expression or sexual orientation. The church cannot deny the covenant of marriage to committed, same-sex couples.


Our Relationship to Clergy Ethics

Because we expect clergy to dedicate themselves to “the highest ideals of Christian life” (Discipline, par. 304), it is not acceptable to insist on mandatory sentences with respect to a narrow range of sexual conduct, while affording our bishop discretion with respect to most aspects of clergy ethics and clergy sexual conduct, and

Because to do so strips the bishop of authority and discernment and limits outcome possibilities which, in turn, precludes a just resolution,

We refuse to bring any charges against the clergy in our Conference for extending the grace of marriage to committed couples or for any charges related to LGBTQIA+ inclusion.

Our Roles as Laity

We will work with our churches toward full inclusion in all facets of our life together.

We will support clergy in this commitment and partner with them to extend the grace of marriage to all people.

We will support all qualified persons who express a call to ministry and welcome LGBTQIA+ ministers who are appointed to our faith communities.

Faithfully Forward

We hear God calling all disciples to greater faithfulness in the midst of this time of pain and lament. At Christ’s invitation, we continue gathering around the wide-open Communion table as one family, seeking to grow closer and more faithful to Christ our Lord and to live in love and peace with all of our neighbors (Matthew 22:34-30; Luke 10:25-37). So fed, we commit ourselves here to the next steps in our journey.

Signed,
Chris Rapko
Elizabeth W. Corrie
Katie Farmer
Abby Rindt
Abigail Wheelis
Adair Woodward
Adrian Waller
Alan Crisman
Alan Tingle
Alden Powell
Alexander Lepik
Alfred Quillian Jr
Alice Martin
Alice Pugh
Alina Crews
Alison Mallard
Allen Barbee
Allison Ellis
Allison Floyd
Allison Rollins
Allison Setterlind
Allyson Yeomans
Alycia Velez-Miranda
Amanda Blackmon
Amanda Howard
Amanda James
Amanda Skinner
Amber Stewart
Amber Wallace
Amy Ard
Amy Burke
Amy Cromwell
Amy DiCristina
Amy Lovell
Amy Nierodzik
Amy Quick
Amy Whittall
Andie Tucker
Andrea Youngstrom
Andrew Johnson
Andrew Thompson
Andrew Yates
Andy Sumlin
Anessia Foley
Angel Clark
Angela Barber
Angela Gentry
Angela Odegard
Angela Russell
Anita Brown
Anita Sweet
Anja Williams
Ann Baker
Ann Fleming
Ann Strader
Anna Gines
Anna Heppner
Anna Whitmire
Annabel Ballew
Annalisa Crow
Anne Fesrs
Anne W. Dunn
Annette Franklin Jackson
Arthur Davis
Ashlee Sklute
Ashley Kern
Ashley Lowery
Ashley Walker Morey
Ashlie Hogan
Atticus Hicks
Audrey Gargiullo
Ava Voss
Avery Tucker Fontaine
Aysha Khoury
Barbara Cooper
Barbara McClure
Barbara Mitchell
Barbara Smith
Barbara Wiley Deskey
Bebe Joyner
Becky Veal
Becky W Rodzik
Becky Wellman
Belinda Crisman
Belva White
Ben Fletcher
Beth Bond
Beth Dixon
Beth Garrett
Beth Garvin
Beth Gavrilles
Beth Jones
Beth O’Neal
Beth Spencer
Bethany Wheeler
Betsy Crawford
Betty Livingston
Betty Martin
Beverly Pool
Bill Duncan
Bill Forrest
Billie Thompson
Bob Hubbard
Bob Wright
Bonnie Minton
Boone Alexander
Brad Schweers
Brandon Wason
Brenda Dixon
Brendan Hollis
Brent Jones
Brian Jones
Brian Keida
Brooke Freeman
Bruce Brownlow
Bruce Knotts-Simmons
Bruce Street
Bryan Beard
Bryan Garrett
Bryan Jordin
Caitlin Tripp
Cal Logue
Cale Robert Hall
Caleb Garrett
Camille Vaughan
Candace McCollough
Carla Dennis
Carol Jones
Carol Allums
Carol Capers
Carol G Bates
Carol McGriff
Carol Pepper
Carole Lessley
Caroline Bruner
Caroline Crawford
Caroline Smith
Carolyn Knight
Carolyn Miller
Carter E Vest
Catherine M. Bennett
Catherine McClellan
Cathy Aiken-Freeman
Cathy Hester Huffines
Cathy Lepik
Celene Joiner
Celeste McCollough
Chad Hales
Chad Webb
Chandler Stuart
Charles Huddleston
Charles Garrett
Charles Kennedy
Chelsea Scritchfield
Cheryl Atkins
Cheryl Dunbar
Cheryl Griffin
Cheryl Larkins
Cheryl Mitchell
Cheryl Thompson
Chet Hollomon
Chloe Cook
Chris Hester
Chris Opstad
Chris Sikes
Chris Wilson
Christi Elliott-Earby
Christian Goerner
Christian Norman
christina Prickett
Christine Carter
Christine Peters
Christy MacPhee
Cindy Curtin
Cindy Forbes Lagunas
Cindy Hall
Cindy Kuhlman
Cindy Smallwood
Clair Wallace
Claire Asbury Lennox
Claire Collins
Clint Paden
Colt Whittall
Connie Cheek
Corey A. Curtis
Corinne Adams
Cornelia Thomson
Crystal Parten
Cynthia Campbell
Cynthia Runyon
Cynthia Shepherd
Dale Merkle
Dan Beale
dan macfarlane
Dana Buckelew
Daniel Fullerton
Daniel Wagle
Danny Askew
Danny Yates
Dave Brewer
David Bennett
David Daniel
David Gines
David Hobson
David Hoyt
David Logeman
David Matheny
David Mercer
David Moore
David Ratliff
David Scruggs
David Sweet
Dawn Francis-Chewning
Dawn Rollin
Deanna Dennis
Deb Carlsen-Sumpter
Deb Cole
Debbie Fambro
Debbie Wells
Debby Eidson
Deborah Koontz
Deborah Marlowe
Debra McKeever
Debye Alderman
Deidra Harrell
Deirdre Russell
Delia Halverson
Denise D. VanLanduyt
Deontez Wimbley
Derrick Hogan
Diana Mitchen
Diane Calhoun
DiAnne Johnson
Dixon Freeman
Donald Lee Hockman, Jr
Donald R Cooper
Donalyn Vaughn
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Donna Fisher
Donna Mayer Todd
Donna Weaver
Doris and Gerald Firth
Doug Carter
Doug Joyner
Douglas Joyner
Dynelle Martin
Ed Hamlin
Eddie Duke
Edith Tomasetti
Edith Twomey
Edward McGrory
Elaine Binkley
elaine hudson
Elaine Little
Elaine Turner
Elijah Shoaf
Elise Thomason
Elissa Marks
Elizabeth Atkinson
Elizabeth Franco
Elizabeth Hartman
Elizabeth Haskell
Elizabeth Holcombe
Elizabeth Kennedy {Betty L.}
Elizabeth Layne
Ella Strickland
Ellen Castleberry Ewing
Ellen Comeaux
Ellen Free
Ellen McFee
Ellouise Daniel
Emilie Green
Emily Arthur
Emily Knodel
Emily Walker
Emily Washburn
Emmaleigh Strickland
Enrique Lecuna
Erin Steele
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F Joel Chasteen
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felicity carroll
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Fred slieper
Gail Schneider
Garry Cupp
Gary Bozeman
Gary Fincher
Gary L Arnold
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Gavin Claugus
George Jones
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Hannah Parks
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Hope Young
Hugh Starling
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Irene Shovelski Huston
J. C. Highsmith
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James E. Kingman II
James Hervey
James M Ewing
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James Wells
Jami Wells
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Sandra Darnell
Sandra Lambert
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Sarah Leonard
Sarah Lyons
Sarah Porterfield Tippens
Sarah Sumners
Sarah Thomas
Sawyer Branham
Scott A. Cook
Scott Harlan
Scott Smith
Sean Coleman
Serena Moore
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Shannon Sullivan
Sharen McArthur
Sharon Brewer
Sharon Hulette
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Sheila McHugh
Sheila wilder
Shelby Roberts
Sherry Bruce
Shona Witschy
Stacey Millarker
Stan Wooley
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Stephanie Frame
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Stephanie Suggs
Stephanie Taylor Warner
Stephanie Wilson
Stephen Mitchell
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Steve J Spetseris
Steve Lewis
Steve Williams
Sudan Shirley Willingham
Susan Albee
Susan Brown
Susan Daniell
Susan Edwards
SUSAN FRANCO
Susan Hawkins
Susan Keenan
Susan Marshall
Susan Oliver
Susan Scott
Susan Wright
Susan-Anne MacKenna
Susanna Baxter
Susanna MacKenna
Susie Hubbard
Suzanne L Dunn
Suzette LaRoche
Suzie Lusk
Sydney Floyd
Sylvia hutchinson
Sylvia Smith
Taylor Kaiser
Teresa Bodine
Teresa Cook
Teresa Futral
Terri Fullerton
Terri Tingle Heppner
Thea Quillian
Thom Daniel
Thomas Ballew
Thomas Hodges
Tim Cook
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Tim Newton
TIMOTHY J AYCOCK
Timothy Jenkins
Timothy Patton
Tina Moore
Tina Wilkinson
Todd Fuller
Tom Cooper
Tommy McGarrah Sharp
Tony Foley
Tonya Farnham
Tonya Ledbetter
Tracy Frost
Tracy McArthur
Tracy Wheelis
Trey Jenkins
Tricia Kolsby
Trisha Jo Cousino
Valerie Blankenship
Van Biesel
Virginia B. Willis
Virginia Clark
Virginia Sowell
Vivian Hubby
W. Reid Mallard
Walter Keel
Weldon Durham
Wendy Wason
Wes Head
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William T Langston
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Zach Plants

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