We seek to follow Jesus in proclaiming the Good News and working for the liberation of all people from oppressive interconnected human systems of racism, sexism, and heterosexism. In particular, at this General Conference we commit ourselves to the work of dismantling the UMC’s codified discrimination against LGBTQI people in order to build a church in which they can be, finally, fully valued as equal partners in the mission to transform the world.
This work takes place within a church, a country, and a world deeply marred by the sins of racism and inequality and our commitment to it is inextricable from our commitment to combat these evils. A majority of us are LGBTQI; a majority are members of other marginalized groups; some of us are both; and all of us recognize that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
We do not know exactly where this commitment will take us, but we trust the Holy Spirit to lead us. We ask for your blessing – and your vote – in order to represent the New York Annual Conference and its historic commitment to LGBTQI equality at the 2019 special General Conference.
We believe in the extravagant abundance of God’s grace and believe that justice for LGBTQ people is possible within the United Methodist Church.
We know that whenever he had a choice, Jesus chose relationships over rules, and people over policies. “The Sabbath was made for humankind and not humankind for the Sabbath.” We thus prioritize the church as God’s people and not the church as an institution. We believe that neither the unity nor the schism of the church is a proper goal in our effort to be faithful to Jesus’s call, but rather a fearless and honest effort to follow the Gospel wherever that may lead us.
We recognize that LGBTQI people have been systemically excluded from the decision-making processes in the UMC that have designated them as “incompatible with Christian teaching” and created rules to bar them from serving in ministry and being ministered to. Only a handful of out LGBTQ people have ever served as General Conference delegates, and even the church’s Commission on the Way Forward – mandated by the 2016 General Conference to “to develop a complete examination and possible revision of every paragraph in our Book of Discipline regarding human sexuality” – includes but three LGBTQI-identified people, out of 32, all of whom are white, cis-gender U.S. citizens.
We also recognize that while the 2019 General Conference has been called expressly to address the impasse in the church between those who believe homophobia to be a sin and those who believe that homosexuality is a sin, the decisions made there will impact everyone in the church and must be made with consideration of their impact on other justice struggles in our denomination.
NYAC voted in 2017 to give direct voice and power to LGBTQI people by the composition of our 2019 delegation: “Resolved, that the conference urge its members to cast their votes for the 2019 General Conference delegation in such a way as to constitute a majority-LGBTQI delegation that reflects the full diversity of LGBTQI communities as well as the diversity of NYAC, so that LGBTQI people can have the genuine ability to shape the delegation’s positions and presence at the special General Conference.”
In keeping with that vote and our commitment to an intersectional vision of justice, we affirm the following principles for NYAC’s delegation to the 2019 special General Conference:
- That the delegation ought to be majority LGBTQI
- That, given the leadership privileges of these positions, the first elected clergy and lay delegates should be LGBTQI
- That the delegation must represent the full diversity of the conference and of its LGBTQI members; and given the unfinished work of racial justice in our church, that it ought to also be majority people of color
- That we seek to include allies with deep General Conference experience in our delegation
- That we ask for the support and wisdom of the entire conference, and invite as many people as possible to join us at General Conference 2019 so we may discern and witness together.
We specifically ask that heterosexual and cisgender members of the conference lay aside a portion of their privilege in accordance with these principles in order to empower those directly affected and historically excluded from the church’s decision-making.