Closed Hearts, Closed Minds, Closed Doors: A Letter to all LGBTQIA and Allied United Methodists

Ahnnalise Stevens-JenningsYou are loved. You were made in the image of God. You are part of the same creation that God breathed God’s own breath into. You were knit together in the womb by God’s own hands. You are beloved.

Our church is flawed. Our church is made up of people, and all people are equal parts loved and sinful. We live in a fallen world that is clenched by fear. We may not see the full inclusion of the whole spectrum of God’s children in our church this General Conference, or the next, or the next, or the next. That does not make you any less beloved by God.

For some, this conference season will be the last straw. Some of us who have been in this fight for so long  are hurting and just want to be somewhere safe and accepting. If that is you, please go knowing that caring for yourself is important. Finding safety, love and acceptance is important. I pray that you find open hearts, open minds, and open doors in your new faith home. I pray that you bring all of yourself to that new place. Share all your gifts, talents, sorrows and joys in your new faith home. Thrive there and be a light for Christ, the one who liberates us all.

For some, this conference season will be the reason you recommit, and double down in this fight. Those of us that are too tired and too hurt to go on thank you. Please, keep pushing as long as you can. Even if our church schisms, I hope that any of us who can still find the strength to carry on will indeed do so. There will always be gay, queer, and gender-non-conforming folks in the Methodist church. Someone has to stay and let them  know how loved they are, how precious they are, how sacred they are to God. I pray that you will help to create open hearts, open minds and open doors. As you keep fighting, do not let the church crush your spirit. Find rest and safe harbors where you can. You are not alone in this. You are desperately needed.

Remember as you are on this journey that everyone who opposes the full inclusion of LGBTQIA people in our church is also a child of God. Speak with kindness, boldness, and grace. We will all come to the same table one day, whether it is here in the United Methodist Church, or in God’s Kingdom. It will be a lot easier for us to come to that table if we look first to see the image of God even in those who are hurting us deeply. That does not mean that we must take abuse, but it does mean that we should not be abusers. We cannot use fear, hatred, and division to win this fight. We can only use understanding, willingness to hear, community, and love. Do not let your anger and hurt make you forget that our goal as people of faith is show others the same love that God has shown us. It is only that amazing grace that can change closed hearts, minds and doors into open ones.

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