Foundry United Methodist Church has joined a growing grassroots movement within the United Methodist church to change the Book of Discipline , our denominational book of policies, that includes a statement prohibiting churches and clergy from performing marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples. As a church dedicated to full inclusion and equality of all people, Foundry is very excited to announce its “Opening Doors to Equality” campaign, which seeks to update the Book of Discipline by connecting United Methodists across the country with personal and moving stories of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) United Methodists and their allies.
Although the “Opening Doors to Equality” campaign launched just recently, the movement for full LGBT inclusion and equality within the United Methodist Church (UMC) has been building for decades. Because of the dedicated efforts of our fellow United Methodists, like the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) and the Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA), today over 1,100 clergy in 19 states and the District of Columbia have vowed to marry gay and lesbian couples and, last year, United Methodists in the Baltimore-Washington Conference voted to support same-sex unions.
But Foundry’s goal to reach full marriage equality within the church needs yet another victory this April when a vote to remove the specific language from the Book of Discipline that opposes full marriage equality for fellow gay and lesbian United Methodists comes to the floor of our General Conference.
The United Methodist Church is a denomination that has been rooted in a thoughtful approach to the social justice teachings of Jesus Christ. We believe that the overriding message of Scripture and the purpose of our denomination is to express the love of God and Jesus Christ to all – without caveat and without exception.
When the Book of Discipline was amended in 1996 to include specific language to prohibit marriage equality, our leaders chose to openly discriminate against our own brothers and sisters in Christ by prohibiting ministers from conducting ceremonies that celebrate same-sex unions. Now we have reached a point in history when nearly 73 million Americans in seven states and D.C. are governed by laws that recognize full marriage equality for same-sex couples.
After the District of Columbia joined the states honoring full marriage equality and passed laws recognizing gay and lesbian marriages, in February 2010, Dumbarton UMC -- a reconciling congregation in Washington, D.C. -- pledged to honor same-sex weddings. Foundry echoed the movement toward social justice and, in September 2010, approved the use of its sanctuary and support for clergy who choose to conduct wedding ceremonies for gay and lesbian congregants.
As a church family, we’ve overcome issues from racial discrimination to women becoming ordained as clergy. This movement for marriage equality is yet another step in the movement of God’s spirit toward the inclusive church and society promised in Scripture. The number of public statements, pledges, and declarations supporting changes in the United Methodist Church’s Book of Discipline, as well as the sheer number of clergy and laity who have publicly signed their names in support, increase daily.
To help reach our goal, we have posted a few personal narratives from LGBT United Methodists and allies on YouTube and have invited United Methodists from across the country to join our Facebook forum for feedback and community involvement.
These personal accounts of love, faith, and equality from our United Methodist sisters and brothers from all walks of life show that we are coming together for a movement rooted in social justice and the love of God and neighbor. I have asked my congregation to do four simple things to further our progress in this movement:
1. “Like” the Doors to Equality page on Facebook.
2. Visit the Web site at www.doorstoequality.org.
3. Share both the Facebook page and Web site with five friends.
We ask that you join us in the movement for marriage equality within the United Methodist Church. By sharing our stories, we will change hearts and minds.
The Rev. Dean Snyder is the senior pastor at Foundry United Methodist Church in the District.