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.


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.


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.

Chris Rapko
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