Church tried to punish a pastor for coming out… so 111 pastors came out to stop them

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More than a hundred Methodist pastors have publicly defied Church teachings by coming out as LGBT – after one pastor faced punishment for coming out.

The group of 111 United Methodist Church clergy co-signed a letter that was sent to senior church officials identifying themselves as LGBT.

The letter posted by Reconciling Ministries Network was signed by people from people across the church – including pastors, deacons, elders and candidates for ministry.

It protests the current church policy, which bans LGBT ministers from serving openly, and also bans same-sex weddings.

One Methodist pastor who signed the letter, Cynthia Meyer, was left facing punishment earlier this year when she came out. However, sacking one pastor is a lot easier than sacking 111.

The letter reads: “We, your Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer/Questioning, and Intersex (LGBTQI) religious leaders want to remind you of our covenant with you.

It continues: “While we have sought to remain faithful to our call and covenant, you have not always remained faithful to us.

“While you have welcomed us as pastors, youth leaders, district superintendents, bishops, professors, missionaries and other forms of religious service, you have required that we not bring our full selves to ministry, that we hide from view our sexual orientations and gender identities.

“As long as we did this, you gladly affirmed our gifts and graces and used us to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world in the varied places you sent us.

“While some of us have been lucky to serve in places where we could serve honestly and openly, there are others in places far more hostile, who continue to serve faithfully even at tremendous cost to themselves, their families, and yes, even the communities they serve, who do not receive the fullness of their pastor’s gifts because a core part must remain hidden.”

The letter continues: “There are many voices within The United Methodist Church who want us to break up with them. From bishops, Boards of Ordained Ministries, and other leaders, we are told to simply leave.

“Is leaving home ever that simple? We are here because God has called us to serve in this denomination, and our souls are fed by the theology in which we’ve been raised.

“We are coming out as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer/Questioning, and Intersex persons at this moment for several reasons.

“Foremost, we want you to know we still love you and seek to remain in relationship with you.

“Even if we should leave and you seek more restrictive language against LGBTQI persons, know that God will continue to move mysteriously in the hearts of LGBTQI young people and adults and will call them to serve within this denomination.

“You cannot legislate against God’s call. The ‘LGBTQI issue’ is not one that can be resolved through restrictive legislation but instead by seeing that all persons are made in the image of God and welcomed into the community of faith.

“We come out, too, to provide hope for LGBTQI young people in hostile UMC churches.

“These young people are more at risk for suicide than their peers, in part, because of the condemnation they hear from the pulpits and pews of their churches.

“We come out to remind them that God’s love for them is immeasurable, and offers them a love that will never let them go, even when it feels like the church is willing to let them go.”

“We seek to create a pathway of hope into ministry for them, even when the church has tried to shut its doors on them, or overtly or indirectly condoned the persecution of LGBTQI persons.”

It adds: “We love you, dear church. Through you, we have stood on sacred ground and seen the face of God more clearly.

“Our prayer, as the church begins its time of discernment, is that you will remember that there are nameless ones around the world, hungry for a word of hope and healing.

“LGBTQI people and their families exist in every church in every continent of this denomination. They are seeking to remain in faithful relationship with you, even when you refuse, because they know God’s tender mercies and great faithfulness.

“Dear church, our prayers are with you, with all of us, in the coming days. May we all be surprised by the Spirit who continues to breathe new life in unexpected ways.

“May we find the body of Christ stronger at the end of our time together, not weaker or more deeply harmed. May we provide a powerful witness of finding unity even in our differences to a world fractured by fear and mistrust.”