Twenty-eight years ago, Juanita and I planted a church in a 100-year-old, dilapidated building filled with homeless, crack-addicted men and women. With the guidance of our friend and mentor, Dr. Kirbyjon Caldwell, St. John’s Downtown-Houston has served as an insightful laboratory for learning about the lives of people who would not have affiliated with formal religious structures if not for the culturally relevant experience of this church. St. John’s sits decisively in the progressive camp theologically but, the glue which has held this expression of church together is something stronger than a passing comment, it’s the sense that community is forged in crucible of crisis and for a people who have survived the isolating ravages of slavery, the Coronavirus is not the first crisis facing the black church.
Cornell West recalls the evangelical and pietistic Christian traditions which, he suggests, “began the moment that slaves, laboring in sweltering heat on the plantations owned and ruled primarily by white American Christians, tried to understand their lives and servitude in light of biblical texts, protestant hymns, and Christian testimonies.” Just as the slaves brought their life experiences to bear on early black Christianity, today in the midst of a global pandemic we look for ways to more powerfully connect our current life circumstances with our faith. Rather than resting on the traditional practices of the face-forward, talking-head model which in a month has radically shifted the church experience to streaming, zooming, texting, and instagraming, we must now move ministry to the street level where the pain of poverty, joblessness, and dis-ease awaits. For years St. John’s has served the needs of the poor and homeless in Houston, Texas. Over the past four weeks we have seen three hundred late model cars line up every Wednesday morning for a box of fresh produce during our drive-thru food distribution program. Fourteen tons of food impacting hundreds of families who have been caught completely off guard by what many have called a nightmare is only the beginning of needs based on our experiences with past natural disasters.
While my journey is far from over, serving St. John’s United Methodist Church has been hopefully productive for the people who have needed the church the most: the poor, the marginalized, and the disinherited. In spite of what could be considered a successful ministry in terms of growth, budget, and scope of outreach over the years, St. John’s and every other church will be ultimately evaluated in the wake of this global pandemic on their efforts to help the sheer volume of human despair that will walk through the church’s doors looking for hope and finding Jesus. The United Methodist Church now has an opportunity to demonstrate John Wesley’s Sermon 139, “On Love” where he used the I Corinthian 13:3 scripture to connect our acts of service to a manifestation of love in the midst of serving.
Dr. Rudy Rasmus, is Co-Pastor at St. John’s UMC-Houston with his wife Juanita, and the author of Touch: Pressing against the wounds of a broken world (Harper Collins), Jesus Insurgency (Abingdon), and Love Period (Hachette Book Group). This article is from his upcoming book, “F_ _ _ the Church: The “F” stands for FREE.”
I used to call her my girl, but that was before she became a 19-year-old young woman. She’s still my daughter, Virginia, however, and I’ve never been more amazed by this college sophomore—and more called to the work before us in the United Methodist Church to #ResistHarm—than right now.
My name is Tom Lee (he, him, his), and I’m a lay person and a 32-year-member of West End United Methodist Church in Nashville. My church means everything to me. My spouse, Laurie, and I were married there. The ashes of our son, Hayden, are interred in the columbarium there. And it’s where Virginia was baptized and confirmed.
The United Methodist Church raised Virginia. It’s where she sang in the children’s choir, played handbells, attended Sunday School, went on mission trips, received her first Bible, and took communion. All these graces were freely offered by the love of the church and its good, good people. And yet, our church withholds graces from Virginia—and, thereby, all of us—for no reasons other than who she is. I cannot walk Virginia down the aisle of her wedding at West End, because she cannot be married there. And, should she one day find God’s call on her life to the ministry, she cannot fulfill it in our church.
This harm is shameful, and it must stop. That is why our family is committed to resisting it, in all its forms and however it presents itself, including at General Conference and the Southeast Jurisidictional Conference, where I’ll represent the Tennessee Conference this year as a lay delegate.
I intend to be as courageous in who God made me as Virginia is in who God made her. I hope you will, too.
Why not begin your day in prayer? Go to https://resistharm.com/prayers/february-9-15/ for our daily prayer guide.
My name is Nancy Malcom (she/her/hers). While I’m not a cradle Methodist, I am a long-time member of Pittman Park UMC in Statesboro, Georgia, where the church’s Wesleyan vision of Christianity anchored in scripture and informed by tradition, experience, and reason upholds me in my spiritual journey. My family is the driving force behind my story. I was born in 1971 as the youngest of five children. My siblings and I – three older sisters and one brother - were stair-steps, with a new baby joining the family every two years. My only brother entered the world in 1969 with his umbilical cord wrapped tightly around his neck. As a result, he was deprived of oxygen for several minutes, which caused severe brain damage. My brother and I went through childhood together. My earliest memories include him always at my side, and even as we grew older, we were usually a pair. I have always held a strong ethic of care, which in retrospect I link directly to growing up alongside my brother. I see the world through a lens which magnifies the connections we have with each other and the responsibility we have to care for and look out for one another. I am and always have been my brother’s keeper.
To be sure, my brother and I were situated in a close-knit, loving family. It was not just the two of us – we were seven strong. I was only 9 years old when my oldest sister moved away to college – a loss which hit me hard. How can it be that anyone from my family could leave our home and go out into the world without the rest of us? Though I would see my sister on occasional visits, our family was never the same after she left for school. Six years later, my sister had graduated from college and was working as a full-time director of a church camp when she was suddenly fired from her job because of her sexual orientation. This news rocked my family. Even from a distance, the potential stigma, shame, and fear were difficult to navigate and family relationships were strained. There is much more that can be said here. I can tell the story of the pain, the difficulty and the real damage – both personal and familial – that was done. But all these years later, I can say that healing is possible. Love endures.
Not only did the church I grew up in teach me that God is Love, but my family shaped me to a greater understanding of how that love plays out. I believe that we are all family. As children of God, we are called to live in relationship with one another – to look out for each other, to care for, support, and encourage each other. To widen the circle and pull people into relationship. Today, I feel an urgent calling to speak and act on behalf of a reconciling, inclusive, affirming church. Alongside my siblings in the United Methodist Church, I confess that we have failed to be an obedient church. We have not done God’s will, we have broken God’s law, we have rebelled against God’s love, we have not loved our neighbors, and we have not heard the cry of the needy. Forgive us, I pray.
I grieve the harm that has been done by our church to so many of God’s beloved children, and I vow to do all in my power to resist harm, and to work toward a church that welcomes, affirms and celebrates ALL. As a lay person in South GA, I can often do and say more than many of our clergy can. So, laity, join me, speak up, be leaders, and let's make a difference together as we all #ResistHarm!
A testimony from Rev. Effie McAvoy (She, her, hers):
Recently my church, The United Methodist Church York Ogunquit finished a Biblical study on Hebrews, James, 1st and 2nd Peter, and 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John. The power of this study has moved us more closely to one another AND has caused us to question how we can be more engaged in the world that we live.
Last February, when the Special General Conference decided that they would do further harm to members of the Body of Christ, York Ogunquit did not take it very well
Historically, this church family has ALWAYS been inclusive. When others were shunning those who had contracted HIV and AIDS, this body embraced these folk…offered them sanctuary…and places to mourn their dead. They showed and still show radical hospitality to anyone who enters the space and in the community that we interact with beyond the walls of the building. Before I was born, York Ogunquit was living the embodiment of resisting harm to God’s children. Before I was a Methodist, they were sharing the Means of Grace in a world that was denied access to the very Christ who came to make them whole. Before I was ordained, they were preaching the Good News of inclusivity, affirmation and acceptance by becoming a Reconciling Network Congregation. Before I moved to Maine, they were actively and visibly flying the pride flag to show that there is room here in this space. And in the welcoming of me, my wife, and our son, they continue to live out their deeply held belief that ALL of God’s children are invited equally to the table…to feast, to host, to serve. NO EXCLUSIONS.
So when I say that my church body did not take what happened in February 2019 very well I am actually saying that they plainly said that “we will not do that”. I confess that I was not surprised by their testament but was greatly moved by their statement of defiance and their unequivocal support of ALL God's people.
Friends, from the Biblical study I mentioned earlier: The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and since (James 3:17). The harm that has been done in the name of God in our beloved UMC is none of this. To serve in a community of faith that strives to live as this text from James mandates is an honor. To be a part of a church that ignores the tenants of the Gospel of truth is painful and infuriating. Daily, I work to #ResistHarm and to be a means of grace for those who have been harmed by religiosity and “forms of righteousness that are far from God”. I also confess my privilege in serving in a community that encourages me to be ME. For those who have never had to live in a closet or had to deny love because of fear of unemployment or other forms of harm, my privilege may not be understood…but for those siblings who have had to or continue to have to live that way, please know that you are not alone in the Body of Christ. There is a place for you in service to your call. You are loved beyond measure.
In His Service,
Rev. Effie McAvoy, Pastor UMC York Ogunquit
York and Ogunquit Maine
What will you do to #ResistHarm? Check out our call to action for February - https://resistharm.com/events/love/
A Testimony From Rev. Jen Logsdon-Kellogg and an invitation from Boston Avenue United Methodist Church, Tulsa for ALL God's Beloved:
I resist the injustice and oppression done to the Queer community, allies, and also to the United Methodist Church by the adoption of discriminatory language in our Book of Discipline in 1972, and its vise grip on loving, committed, fruitful, sacred relationships.
I was born in 1972 into the United Methodist Church. I was baptized, confirmed, and married in my home church in Oklahoma. I was taught to read scripture through the lens of Tradition, Experience, and Reason - and the unconditional love of God for each and every person. We call that prevenient grace. When I entered the ministry as a part-time local pastor and full time seminary student in 2012, I felt that the discriminatory language in our Book of Discipline was unjust, oppressive, and unloving to Queer people. I am a United Methodist, and I am called to ministry. Walking away from the UMC was not an option. Fortunately for me, I am a cisgender woman in a long-term, stable hetero marriage. I knew a thing or two about married love.
I figured that the denomination and I would have time during seminary to work out our issues. I was wrong. In my first appointment, I found that the most Spirit-filled leader in the congregation happened to be a woman married to another woman. As I got to know them and grew to love them, I found that their marriage was every bit as strong and fruitful as mine. I discovered that they centered Christ in their marriage, that they felt God had led them to one another, and that their marriage was fruitful in that together they were able to more fully serve their church and be Jesus to their community than either could have done alone.
When the US Supreme Court decision legalized same-sex marriage in 2015, I had to stand on the sidelines in a rented venue while another clergy person from a different denomination presided over their second wedding. Two weddings, and neither took place in the church to which this couple belonged and for which they poured out their prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness. The blessing I received at my own wedding--having my faith community covenant to support our marriage -- that blessing was not made available to my friends, my siblings in Christ. In that appointment, I also maneuvered (poorly) trying to obey the Discipline and yet showing my support for other LGBTQ couples by parsing out which parts of the wedding I could do without breaking the rules. I regret my own cowardice. That church, a small rural congregation in southeastern Oklahoma, has since embraced their authority to bless LGBTQ people in their commitments and callings.
I am now ordained as an Elder in the Oklahoma Annual Conference and serve in a large congregation in downtown Tulsa. The Administrative Board at my church, Boston Avenue UMC, recently approved unanimously policies of non-discrimination in the use of our facilities for weddings. We approved an SPRC policy that allows each clergy person to discern whom to marry regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. I am free, finally, to honor and celebrate the covenant of marriage for couples whom God has joined together. I am free, finally, to lift up and mentor candidates for ministry who are lesbian or gay, bisexual, trans, questioning, or who otherwise consider themselves to be part of the LGBTQ+ community. I am free, finally, to invite Queer people to really participate in our church in whatever ways God has equipped and inspired them, without having to hide or suppress any part of themselves.
As an act of resistance, Boston Avenue and St. Paul's United Methodist Church Tulsa are participating in a series of worship services in the Tulsa area between now and General Conference 2020. Our February service will honor the Resist Harm February emphasis on Love. Boston Avenue is hosting the service that will include an affirmation of commitment and connection for marriage covenants and the covenants we make in community with one another, whether through official or unofficial channels. We affirm that all people are created by God, and are beloved by God. We affirm that God created us with the desire and capacity for covenant commitment with God and people. We will pray with and for members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies who have been harmed by the unloving policies of the United Methodist Church. We will grieve those missed opportunities for witnessing to the love of God when we have refused marriage rites to Queer couples. And we will celebrate that the love between people, even when not sanctioned by the United Methodist Church, is sanctioned and celebrated by God. ALL are welcome to participate in person or via Facebook live at https://www.facebook.com/BostonAvenueUMC. Join us!
Rev. Jen Logsdon-Kellogg (She, her, hers)
Minister of Evangelism & Welcoming
Boston Avenue United Methodist Church, Tulsa Oklahoma
What will you do during February? Learn how you and your community can resist the Traditionalist Plan in February https://resistharm.com/…/2…/01/ResistHarm_Feb_ActsOfLove.pdf
If you are a United Methodist clergy-person and wish to make a statement of conscience by indicating your willingness to receive requests to officiate, please check out and consider signing on to https://marriagerites.org.
I’m Ole-Einar Andersen (he, him, his). As a lifelong (70 years) Methodist in Trondheim, Norway, I strongly support #ResistHarm and all efforts towards a fully LGBTQ+ including and affirming (United) Methodist church. All Methodists of good will must fight and defeat the brutal and merciless “theology” represented by Traditional Plan.
Norwegian law accepts, respects and protects LGBTQ+ rights, like most western European countries. So does, in general, the western European social society, too. The current UMC stand on this issue makes our church increasingly irrelevant and out of touch with people, and it represents a not sustainable theology.
Go to https://resistharm.com/events/love and learn more about our #ResistHarm initiatives for February and getting involved.
In my pastoral prayers, I often use the phrase “those whom each of us name in our hearts before you.” Since the Special General Conference last February, I name in my heart those in my current congregation and throughout the United Methodist connection who strive for faithfulness and fruitfulness, and who are directly harmed by the draconian measures passed at the last General Conference – measures that single out a select group of people for condemnation and punishment based solely on identity, that take away the possibility of putting calling, character, faithfulness, and fruitfulness before focusing on identity, that require oaths in order to be in certain leadership positions, and that create a globally elected body to enforce particular rules, a body likened by our Judicial Council to an “inquisitional court.”
I continue to hold in prayer people that I love and consider siblings in Christ. In support of all those singled out and harmed for decades, I was blessed to participate in the service at FUMC Little Rock, as a part of a National Day of Resistance. I also continue to be involved in #ResistHarm and use the resources available to all of us at https://resistharm.com/
As a UM Pastor and a delegate to General Conference from Arkansas, I call upon all (those who identify as traditionalists, centrists, progressives or some kind of mix – like me) to stand for continued conversation, to stand for inclusion of diverse voices within the body of Christ, and to stand up as a witness to the high and holy love of God for ALL – a love that calls us into unity in love rather than uniformity by law. Come Holy Spirit as we all open ourselves to your calling and your love! Join me as we #ResistHarm!
Rev. Michael Roberts (he, him, his)
Watch this sermon from Hollywood UMC.
"Worship is beginning now! Join us as we celebrate God’s affirmation of love and grace, while we renew our vows and bless all of our families."
My Name is unfortunately redacted as I serve in a place where it is not safe for me to post a name or picture. As an Ordained Elder serving in a conservative church in one of the most conservative conferences, the depressing reality is that I am unable to speak publicly without reprisal in a conference that has consistently demonstrated both the will and power to do so.
My desire to stay hidden, rests not with the costs my family and I would have to make but the ministry that would be lost. I have spent the better part of 20 years in ministry in one of the most dangerous places for LGBTQ people (especially young people). I have waited by the phone as kids were coming out to their parents in fear that they would be put out on the street. I have mentored LGBTQ teens who were subjected to conversion therapy at the hands of other church leaders. I have held teens as they wept after experiencing some of the most horrific verbal violence imaginable.
I have been the guard at the gate of the safe space for them to grow in their knowledge of their own belovedness and love of God. I serve in a denomination that ultimately labels them as “incompatible” and I offer to them what I believe with all my heart is God’s truth: they are not incompatible in any way but a gift from God just as they are, God loves them, and so do I.
When the traditional plan passed, I wept as my mind raced through all the harm it would promote and continue knowing that the powerful champions of the plan in my conference and others would be emboldened to threaten, silence, and harm even more people. I was right. It has been bad.
When I have pushed back in private, I have been threatened, “cautioned” and told to stay silent as my appointment would be at risk, and I could be sent to what would be considered a “punitive” appointment.
I am sad to say it has worked, in part. Though my name is not public, I have been involved in this beautiful #ResistHarm movement. And, as I have made my objections to the traditional plan known to some in our conference I have discovered that there are many, many more who have been silenced publicly but have been working relationally and anonymously to #ResistHarm in my conference and all over the connection.
Still I am cut to the bone by Dr. King’s words “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” I know I must continue to say, do and be more. Friends, the resistance is larger than you think. There are more of us working underground than you know. Let us Resist Harm together.
I am Rev. Dr. Valerie L. Jackson (she, her, hers) and I am an apologetic Womanist homiletician; visionary faith and community leader; and author. As an ordained elder in the United Methodist church, I live into my calling as a voice for uncensored and unconditional love, inclusion, justice and fullness of life for all human beings.
I am a triple threat to oppressive structures: I am a Woman, Black and Queer. In fact, not one part of my sacred identity has been innately welcomed in the United Methodist church or the Church Universal without challenge, protest and advocacy. Therefore, my very existence is radical and revolutionary. Just showing up, I “disrupt our ruptured world.” (words of Mary Donovan Turner) By default, I am often the recipient of harm. But with intentional love, determination, education and prophetic voice, I resist and challenge harm with the hopes of transforming hearts, consciousness, paradigms and practices.
On January 1, 2020, I began a new, dual appointment as Congregational Resource Minister of the Mile-High Metro District of the Mountain Sky Conference and lead pastor of Cameron UMC in Denver. In addition, I am adjunct faculty at the Iliff School of Theology; founder and member of Celie’s New Song; board member for The Center for Health and Hope; and founder/ceo of TripleThreat Ministries a sacred work to empowering women to disrupt the gender status quo by maximizing their potential, fulfilling their purpose and living their dreams.
Herstorically, I have lived into and fulfilled my calling in the following ways: senior pastor of University Park United Methodist Church in Denver; senior pastor of First United Methodist Church of Aurora; preaching pastor for the Abyssinian Christian Church in Fort Collins; academic advisor at the Iliff School of Theology; adjunct faculty with the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, GA; program manager for the Augusta Housing Authority and community resource coordinator for the Department of Family & Children Services in Augusta, GA; community developer for the City of Aiken, South Carolina and the City of Boston and board member for the Colorado Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. I earned my Doctor of Ministry degree from the Iliff School of Theology with research in Homiletics, Womanist Theology and Black Church Studies. The project title is: A Critical Analysis of Preaching in the National Baptist Convention, USA, Incorporated: The Socio-Cultural and Existential Reality of Women. I have a Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Christian Education from the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia; and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Tufts University.
Prior to joining the United Methodist church in 2009, I was the 1st woman licensed to preach and the 1st full time Director of Christian Education at the Beulah Grove Baptist Church in Augusta, Georgia; and co–author with Rev. Dr. Sam Davis of a very practical book in Christian Education entitled “Building Capacity to Build the Kingdom: Shaping the Church through Christian Education”. While seemingly exciting and it was, it is very disheartening that this all happened in 2000, the beginnings of the 21st century. The 21st century!!! Consequently, I join the United Methodist church because I thought, finally, I had found the true meaning and manifestation of Church. When I stepped into Park Hill, my very first United Methodist church in Denver, I saw a place where a strong representation of God’s human creation were present, welcomed, embraced and celebrated: black, white, African, Asian, gay, lesbian, single, married, partnered, young, old, etc… I belonged and it was life-giving and affirming. No human being should accept less than belonging, being loved, respected and celebrated.
So join me and other faithful United Methodists in #ResistHarm. As shared by my colleague, Rev. Izzy Alvaran, “when confronted with injustice, the only recourse is to resist with all the power and might that the Spirit grants us.”
My name is Rev. Dr. David Weekley and my call to ministry came at a young age. I tried to deny my call to ministry, but I found no peace so I answered God’s call. After graduation with my D. Min from Boston University I tried to locate another vocation, but ministry is my passion and calling. I simply cannot walk away.
This is my 37th year of local church ministry. I also served many leadership roles in Oregon-Idaho before coming out. I have written several books including In from the Wilderness: Sherman:She-r-man which is the story of my life as a transgender man, a Christian, a loving husband and father, an ordained elder in the UMC since 1984, and a human being.
Today, I serve as part-time as Pastor of St. Nicholas United Methodist Church in Hull, MA. We have lost nearly everything since coming out but we would not change this decision.
Harm has been done to LGBTQ people and allies for decades. Please help #ResistHarm moving forward. So many of us have been so hurt. People of God, we need you!
My name is Kathy Webb (she/her/hers). I’m a cradle Methodist, a PK, former Trustee at Broadway UMC in Chicago, and past lay leader at First United Methodist Church, Little Rock.
I’ve tried to live as my parents taught me: what I am.....is God’s gift to me; what I become....is my gift to God. Over the years, I’m grateful to have worked in the social justice arena, and have that work recognized by the AR Caucus of Black Methodists for Social Renewal, Hendrix College and Philander Smith College, and my church, First United Methodist Church.
However, as a member of the LGBTQ community, I am broken-hearted by the passage of the Traditional Plan. I am broken-hearted by the harm done to our LGBTQ clergy. To our LGBTQ youth, many of whom have already felt rejection and bullying. And to thousands of other LGBTQ UM’s, who try, as do I, to live an “altogether” life, as John Wesley called us to do.
I am grateful to be in community with UM’s across the denomination, and will continue not only to #ResistHarm but work to do good. Will you join me?
(Kathy is on the Resist Harm team and is one of the organizers of the #ResistHarm services held in Arkansas last week. Over 1000 people attended these inspiring worship services in Little Rock and Fayetteville calling for a church that fully includes and affirms LGBTQI, POC and all God’s people! Here is the local CBS affiliate’s coverage of the event:
Annual conferences, churches, groups, United Methodists, how can you show greater solidarity in opposition to the Traditional Plan and the parts of The Book of Discipline that are harmful and discriminatory to LGBTQ persons and allies, and in shared witness as a Church committed to justice for and in ministry with all persons? How can you Resist Harm?
Though the angry photo of me from #GC2019 went viral, it’s this relationship-building across continents—relationships that allow for grief, pain AND reconciliation that convicts my heart
Whatever the The United Methodist Church becomes, I hope we at least confess the harm we have done to our siblings of color, queer siblings, and the other communities we continue to harm. Thank you Bishop Muyombo for your words of confession, now may they be followed with action.
Bishop Muyombo video:
My name is Karen Garcia Prudente (ako/ikaw/tayo), a queer lay member of Christ Church United Methodist (NYC) where one thrives as a beloved child of God. I served as Chair of Methodist in New Directions (MIND) and stood on the GC2019 floor, as a member of the NYAC delegation, to affirm The Simple Plan which would have removed the harmful LGBTQ language from the Book of Discipline. I am an alternate GC2020 delegate and a NE Jurisdictional 2020 delegate. I am a UMC-NEXT Convening member and Love Your Neighbor Coalition (LYNC). Labelled a Progressive Left, I consider myself a bridge for all people whom I intently listen to their cares and beliefs. I faithfully share my professional skills as a member of The Connectional Table on behalf of the NE Jurisdiction. On January 1, 2020, when the Traditional Plan starts in the USA, I wonder if I will be removed as an openly gay person.
I am a third generation Methodist born in the USA, grew up in the Philippines and am a global citizen thru mission ministries with women, children and youth. My grandfather Dr. Gumersindo Garcia and my mother Ruth G. Prudente are stalwart leaders of the United Methodist Church in the Philippines and the USA. I followed their footsteps serving with The Women’s Division of the General Board of Global Ministries — my way of thanking the UMC in protecting the family despite great political and physical strife under the Marcos dictatorship. Together with church and society partners, we turned the tide back to a just Filipino democracy!
The Garcia-Prudente family lives with grounded Biblical knowledge that God = Love and that Jesus Christ is proof of God’s unconditional love. I am called to #ResistHarm declaring God’s honor of the sacred worth of every LGBTQ clergy and sibling in the United Methodist Church as well as Allies who have taken social holiness stands to erase all forms of discrimination.
To continue living into my baptismal vows, I must:
You and I are change agents of this global village created with God’s wisdom. Like Esther, we are born into such a time as this. We each need to recover bravado Spirit to:
Awaken. Act. Be Bold. Learn. Rally. Pray. Worship.
Understand and live our Wesleyan Quadrilateral inheritance.
Go to https://resistharm.com. Resources abound. Submit your own ideas. Upload a profile and your events. Encourage church groups and individuals to participate. We are stronger united.
We are millions resisting exclusion. Be fearless and courageous. Persist with determination. Enter this new decade of favored faith undergirded by God’s sacred deliverance. Together, we can:
Even so, come, Lord Jesus! Rev. 22.20
In the waning hours of Advent, this is my prayer. Often it is that the final edit of the Christmas Eve message is saved and printed. Often it is that the final substitution of personnel for the Christmas Eve services has been settled. Often it is that the final nit-picking wilted poinsettia has been revived. Often it is that the Christmas Eve bed has been made for a long winter nap to begin at 1:30am and Christmas brunch foods are purchased, prepped, and readied for a late morning breaking of the fast.
I savor this hinge point. I savor it as I savor this moment in the life of our denomination.
You and I have been preparing for years, intensely for months, to welcome a renewed United Methodist denomination that no longer blocks the affirmation of God, Christ, and Spirit for its members of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Our prayer is the same, is it not?
Even so, come, Lord Jesus! Reside with us. Abide with us. Go with us.
Thank you for your many gifts – time, talent, and treasure. They are like preparations for the Advent of Christ coming among the United Methodist Church anew. They are oiling the hinges of the door as it prepares to swing open to let Christ and all he loves into our beloved United Methodist Church.
I was sixteen when I learned the word, “Maranatha!” It means, “Come, Lord Jesus!” I was at Expo ’72, a gathering of young people in Dallas, Texas. My trusting parents let me travel by bus from Michigan to Dallas alone. It was a hinge point in my faith. Although my relationship with Christ had been electrified during communion as a seventh grader, my teenage faith was empowered by the Spirit in Dallas. In that season of Spiritual revival, my life continued its long trajectory of conversion. Each turning point. Each set-back. Each struggle. Each call. Each love. Each dilemma. Each step. “Maranatha!” became an important theme on that journey.
You see, discipleship has always been about living on the hinge point between what is and what will be. I am grateful to have never been satisfied with a once-saved, always-saved perspective, or formula, or Calvinist interpretation. I’m Wesleyan through and through. The sanctifying power of the Spirit keeps on working on me. It may be trite but it still is true: God isn’t finished with me yet. In like manner, God isn’t finished with us, the UMC yet. Every day is a hinge to what more is possible in me, in you, in the denomination, and in the world.
So I continue that prayer I began so long ago. I hope you will too. For together we are a hinge into this next Advent of Christ in the UMC and world. Let’s be the prayer as well. Let’s resist all traditionalist efforts to purge the United Methodist Church of its lgbtq members, friends, families, pastors, allies, and congregations.
“I am coming soon,” the Christus Victor said. “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus,” the observing author replied. Revelation 22.20
“The best of all: God with us!”
David W. Meredith, UM elder, Pastor of Clifton United Methodist Church in Cincinnati, OH and Director of Urban Ministry for the Ohio River Valley District, spouse of Jim Schlachter, living under complaint.
I am Ophelia Hu Kinney (she/her), a queer United Methodist lay leader serving HopeGateWay in Portland, Maine, the Communications Specialist at Reconciling Ministries Network, and a member of the New England Annual Conference. I grew up an atheist in a non-Christian household, became a Christian as an adult, and joined The United Methodist Church when I found a church that I could call home – a church that has been unabashedly queer- and trans-affirming since its inception. Our mostly queer leadership gets to co-create an experience of worship and community that is growing and giving. Belonging should not be so rare in an institution formed in the way of Jesus.
I'm called to Resist Harm because resistance is my inheritance and my responsibility. My Christian faith descends from a foundation of resistance, and my faithfulness depends on my willingness to lean into Christ's call to resist empire, even when – and perhaps especially when – it comes from within the Church. The empire we face now is seeded in part by an organization that has for decades worked to sabotage racial justice, anti-poverty, and anti-misogyny work in mainline Christian denominations. Its apologists include religious leaders charged to tend their flocks but devoted instead to fear-based interpretations of power and scripture.
I'm called to Resist Harm because we must. My queerness is not only an identity but also a command: to stay this course of duty because, no matter the state of The United Methodist Church come General Conference 2020, LGBTQ people will continue to wonder if their Creator loves them as they were created. That's why I belong to the Resist Harm effort.
On my best days, I believe in living today the Church we long to experience tomorrow. Because no General Conference will atone for our sins. No Judicial Council ruling will right what is wrong. No single plan or proposal will usher in God's justice. No one is coming to save us. We cannot wait and see. We cannot hope to be given by empire the justice for which we yearn. My queer, Christian, and Asian American ancestors taught me that. This is a moment, broken wide open with the pain of LGBTQ United Methodist clergy and their allies, into which God is calling us to co-author Her kin-dom. The well is bottomless, and the ink has yet to dry. By the power of your baptism, you are authorized to pen the future. So, what do you say?
My name is Lisa Schubert Nowling (she/her), and I’m a clergyperson joyfully serving First United Methodist Church in Bloomington, IN. I feel called to #ResistHarm of the Traditional Plan because of my baptismal vows to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves, in this case to my UM siblings who are LGBTQIA+.
As a white, cisgender, heterosexual American, I recognize my place of privilege, and I’m being sanctified as an ally to those who are on the margins of our church and communities. I was a delegate to the painful session of General Conference 2019, and I will be a delegate again in 2020. I feel called to create a more welcoming, affirming and inclusive church for my 4-year-old daughter to inherit. To do so, we must repent of our discriminatory past with regards to race, gender, ethnicity, ability, education, socioeconomic level, age, sexual orientation, and gender identity. We must shape a liberated church where those on the margins have a primary voice.
I hope you’ll join me in resisting the Tradition Plan and being open to the Spirit’s lead on fresh, inclusive forms of Methodism.
On this Resist Harm website you will find an already expansive and growing number of tools and resources for resistance. Also, please go to ResistHarm on Facebook and follow us and share our Facebook page with your friends, church, and groups.
I’m Rev. Dr. Michael Bowie (he/him) and I’m the pastor of St. Luke “Community” United Methodist Church located in east Dallas, TX. As Senior Pastor, my job is to be prophetic and to cast a vision and then have the boldness and courage to implement the vision. Our vision at St. Luke is to be “prophetic voices that will transform lives by becoming a Christ-centered, Justice-driven, Kingdom-minded community pursuing excellence in all we do.”
After the Special General Conference which targeted the LGBTQ community for harm and discrimination, I knew it was time for me to take a stand against this injustice. As Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King said in his Letters From The Birmingham Jail, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The Traditional Plan is legislated discrimination so that’s why I am part of the team of people involved in #ResistHarm. I hope you will go on the Resist Harm website and look at the resources here. You will find many wonderful tools for resisting injustice in all forms. Personally, I want to especially ask you to pray. Pray breakthrough prayers! I believe that the same God that in Acts 12 released Peter from his chains, is going to release the United Methodist Church from these chains of oppression and discrimination.
Before St Luke, I’ve in several positions including Senior Pastor of Love United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas, and as Teaching Pastor of Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church. I hold a Doctorate of Ministry from United Theological Seminary specializing in church administration and congregational development, a Master of Divinity from Saint Paul School of Theology, graduating Cum Laude and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Texas Southern University. I also serve as SCJ Chair of Black Methodists for Church Renewal and I am on the Convening Team for UMCNext.
I am Molly Vetter (she/her), an ordained elder in the California-Pacific Annual Conference and Senior Pastor of the Westwood UMC in Los Angeles, CA, USA. I am grateful to be a part of the work of #ResistHarm, as it connects us together in the shared work of the church, grounded in Wesleyan commitments and our baptismal vows.
Fun fact: I was confirmed in the very first, new United Methodist Church. My home church in Grand Island, Nebraska was chartered during the 1968 General Conference. During my confirmation preparation in 1989, I wrestled with what it might mean to live into the wild promises articulated in the baptismal vows of our then-brand-new United Methodist Hymnal, including the charge to "resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves." My senior year in high school, I was a part of an intergenerational small group in my western Nebraska church that used the "The Church Studies Homosexuality" resource that came out of the General Conference. It helped me connect my faith to what I had already experienced: that the Holy Spirit has long been calling and gifting people for ministry, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. I believe that our church's exclusions have impaired our ability to perceive what God has been doing in our very midst.
I cannot imagine what my faith or my pastoral identity would look like without my having received blessings of the Holy Spirit through LGBTQ siblings, including mentors, church folks and colleagues. I am grateful to be a part of the #ResistHarm movement because it allows me ways to share this testimony, and to connect with others in diverse places who similarly stand in opposition to the harmful exclusions of our United Methodist Church. Further, I am distressed at the ways the anti-LGBTQ decisions of General Conference in February destroy the vitality of our connection, reducing it to a mechanism for enforcing narrow exclusions. This harms not only those who would be excluded (and LGBTQ kin feeling exclusion and struggling for safety in our broader communities) but the whole of our church.I believe that the church can still make a difference, though! By collectively raising our voices, we can resist harm in our local churches and communities and participate in the transformation of the world. I am thrilled to be a part of the effort to provide Resist Harm worship resources for our churches, trusting that God can work with us in powerful ways through the postures of worship and the language of liturgy, as we attune our communities to the love of Christ and the reign of God. Be sure to check out our worship planning guide for January!
I have been privileged to serve the church in lots of ways, in addition to the three Cal-Pac churches I've served since in commissioning in 2001. I'm currently a part of Academy #41 of the Two-Year Academy for Spiritual Formation. I have been a delegate or reserve delegate to General Conferences in 2000, 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2019; I was the Chair of the Order of Elders in my Conference from 2008-16. I served on the General Board of Church and Society from 2008-16. I was a part of the Faith and Order Commission of the NCCC-USA from 2000-2004, and a delegate to the WCC Assembly in 1998. I've helped lead Junior High Camps and Strength for the Journey Retreats for adults with HIV/AIDS. I've taught courses in the Bible at San Diego State University and the San Diego Rescue Mission Women's Center.
I'm a graduate of Claremont School of Theology (MDiv, 2001) and Boston University (BA, 1998). I live in Los Angeles with my husband, Matt, and our 8-year-old son.
I am Rev. Will Ed Green (he/him), Pastor & Director of Discipleship at Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C. where I help to coordinate small group, fellowship group, adult education, retreat, and leadership development ministries. Over the course of my ministry I’ve served churches in Arkansas and Illinois, in addition to serving as a cochair of the Division on Ministries with Young People.
I’m also an Arkansan in diaspora.I was born there and raised there, educated there, called by my local United Methodist Church into ministry there. And in 2008, as I pastored two churches and worked toward ordination, I was outed as gay there. The local leaders of the denomination told me that if I wanted to serve God, it would have to be elsewhere, because the Methodist Book of Discipline said people like me were “of sacred worth… but incompatible with Christian teaching.” I faced a heart-rending choice: abandon the family, congregations and communities that had nurtured me, or abandon God’s call. In 2009, I faced my exodus.
Today, I give thanks for that journey. Not only have I found a place where my deeply evangelical, orthodox roots meets my commitment to building a just, anti-racist, anti-colonial church, but I’ve been given a chance to create the same space that was made for me for the queer persons in the communities I’m called to serve. I’ve witnessed what happens when the church throws open its doors with radical hospitality and embraces Christ’s call to love and serve all as dozens of LGBTQ+ persons, their families, and allies find a place in Christian community they never thought they would have. I’ve seen hearts transformed and lives changed when we extend radical hospitality and celebrate the full diversity of our human family. I’ve journeyed alongside queer persons longing to have their love for one another celebrated in the community they call home—and seen how those marriages enrich those communities. I’ve watched God call some of the most profoundly gifted, prophetic, creative people into ministry who happen to be queer. And their space to answer that call was made by congregations who were willing to support them, despite the punitive policies of our denomination.
That’s why I support this movement to #ResistHarm. Because to do anything less would be an abdication of the call which Christ has placed upon my life to proclaim the Gospel in ways that lifts up, liberates, and empowers all people. And because I know that to do anything less than that would be to have lived life doing nothing at all. I hope you’ll join our movement in whatever ways the Spirit might move your heart to do so. Stand up. Speak out. Resist harm and watch what God can do.
BTW: You can find the sign template here along with many other FB frames and other communication tools and resources. Check back regularly for new templates and tools being added regularly.
I am Rev. Curtis Brown (he/him). I’m a United Methodist pastor, coach, consultant, and denominational executive. My work has given me the opportunity to meet and work in new church planting, congregational development, and entrepreneurial leadership alongside thousands of United Methodists all throughout the connection. Currently, I serve as Director of Connectional Ministries in the Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference. This is my home conference, where I became a Christian, joined the United Methodist Church, and was first licensed for ministry thirty years ago.
Like many of you, I have seen the harm that the Traditional Plan is causing. Many of the people I serve found the Traditional Plan to be divisive, punitive, and unkind. Kindness, even when we disagree, is a big value of midwestern United Methodism, and it seemed lacking in the Traditional Plan. This unkindness awakened many people to the marginalization and exclusion of LGBTQ people within their own churches, and they are ready for a change.
I believe that the Traditional Plan enacted by the Special Called General Conference in 2019 is bad legislation. It is unclear (and possible illegal under some state fair employment laws) in inventing a new clergy relationship status of “suspension without pay” but still under appointment. It seems to strip away the right of clergy to a complete trial by their peers (which includes the penalty phase) in violation of our denomination's constitution and restrictive rules. It undermines the ability of the Bishop to seek a just resolution. It enshrines into legislation the horrible new practice that a person can be “self-avowed” by someone else submitting a marriage license with their name on it. And, most critically, it rejects the clear testimony of the Holy Spirit that bears witness to the belovedness of LGBTQ persons, fruitfulness in ordained ministry, and the holiness of same-gender marriages.
I know that a narrow majority of delegates across the connection supported the Traditional Plan, but I stand in the long line of minority opinions within the Methodist Christian tradition who will not agree or assent to bad and discriminatory legislation. Moreover, my faith in Christ will not permit me to support decisions that deny the Holy Spirit’s witness in the lives of LGBTQ people. And so, I have been proud to support this work and to get into formation to #ResistHarm.
If you haven't yet, please follow ResistHarm's Facebook page. Following this page helps us grow this movement.
Author: Lisa Schubert Nowling
Welcome to Resist Harm, where we vow to do no harm as we live into our baptismal vows to resist evil, oppression, and injustice in whatever forms they present themselves.
Our aim is to provide tools and resources to help United Methodist congregations and individuals resist the Traditional Plan, which is incompatible with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We believe it causes harm by unfairly targeting our siblings who are LGBTQIA+.
While our focus is the full inclusion, affirmation, and celebration in the church of those who are LGBTQIA+, we recognize that confronting this injustice will require further repentance and healing of injustice based on race, age, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, class, culture, ability, and all other forms. We’re grateful you’re joining us on a Wesleyan journey to first do no harm.
Resisting evil, injustice, and oppression is integral to our spiritual DNA as United Methodists. It’s part of our Scriptural story, our church tradition, our Wesleyan heritage, and our denominational future.
The Word of God tells the love story between God and God’s people, even in the midst of oppression and suffering. In order to love God and their neighbors more fully, God’s people are often called to resist the powers and principalities of this world.
The people of God in Hebrew Scripture consistently resisted the empire, the worship of idols, and the oppression of those who were marginalized like widows, orphans, and foreigners.
These were the stories Jesus heard as a boy that shaped him as a Messiah who resisted evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they presented themselves, whether that be the Roman Empire or the Pharisaic tendencies of his own religious tradition. He proclaimed a year of Jubilee where debts were forgiven and people set free. The Gospels are full of examples of Jesus’ radical resistance:
In the end, Jesus’ way of creative, non-violent resistance would lead to his death on the cross at the hands of the Empire with the religious leaders and his followers standing by. His resurrection, however, is not simply about our individual salvation. It’s a reminder that even our powers, principalities, and institutions can be redeemed.
Our Christian tradition is filled with examples of “holy rebels” who devoted their prophetic lives to helping us usher in the reign of Jesus on earth as it is in heaven. They have confronted the Church, governments, leaders, and other institutions, calling them to greater love, justice, and peace.
John Wesley understood that our call as Methodists required both personal piety and social holiness. “The Gospel of Christ knows no religion but social, no holiness but social holiness,” Wesley wrote. “Faith working by love is the length and breadth and height and depth of Christian perfection.”
From the beginning, Methodists have answered the call to make disciples of Jesus Christ who transform the world together. Such transformation often involves resisting evil, injustice, and oppression:
For decades many in the United Methodist Church have been fighting the discrimination legislated against LGBTQ persons and practiced against not only LGBTQ persons but people of color, women, people with disabilities and so many others. We thank everyone who has resisted evil and injustice in all forms in the past and call on all United Methodists to raise their voices and Resist Harm!
The future of the church rests upon the call of God on our lives to faithful, creative, non-violent resistance. We believe that through personal piety and social holiness, we can experience the salvation Jesus intends for all people, communities, institutions, and the entire creation. Please join us as we resist the injustice of the Traditional Plan and build the open, inclusive, welcoming church we believe God dreams for us.
I am Rev. David Wiggs (he/him), Senior Pastor at Boston Avenue United Methodist Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Boston Avenue is a historic downtown congregation of nearly 8,000 members. Our reach also extends via our television ministry to four states every Sunday morning. Immediately preceding this appointment, I served as a District Superintendent in my conference. For more than thirty-five years I have worked with people in the United Methodist Church and related agencies including as a Board Member for Oklahoma State University Wesley Foundation, Trustee for the Oklahoma United Methodist Foundation, Conference Council on Finance and Administration, and as a St Paul School of Theology Trustee.
Opening “new doors” for people to participate in the church has been an ongoing focus in my ministry. I believe that the Gospel clearly calls us to be in full ministry with anyone seeking Christ. When the Special General Conference doubled down and made the decision that pastors could not be trusted to make decisions in their own area of appointment as to which weddings we would perform, I knew the delegates voting for that were charting a path veering off from the main Wesleyan tradition. Add the policy of mandatory penalties, suspensions and revoking a person’s ordination on this basis, and it is so anti-Wesleyan (In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty and in all things charity) that I cannot support it.
Targeting a single group of people for exclusion is discriminatory. In that regard, using one’s sexual orientation or gender identity as the basis to judge a candidate for ministry, rather than demonstrated gifts and graces producing fruit in ministry is something I also cannot support. I know candidates and pastors with great gifts for ministry, producing fruit, whom identify as LGBTQ. Banning them from ministry on this basis I find robs the church of talent and ignores God’s work in creating a diverse human/church family. Boston Avenue's leadership is of one mind that we must resist these policies and the unending harm they have caused and will continue to cause, if followed. I am thankful to be a team member of #ResistHarm and hope you will get involved, too.
I am Rev. Israel Alvaran (he/him), a United Methodist elder and member of the Philippines Annual Conference. Currently, I am the only out gay clergy from a central conference that is part of the United Methodist Queer Clergy Caucus. An immigrant and political refugee in the United States, I am under episcopal appointment to serve with Reconciling Ministries Network as Western Regional Organizer. I am a cradle United Methodist, born thousands of miles away from Dallas as the UMC was being born during the Uniting General Conference of 1968. My home church in Manila, Knox Memorial UMC, is the oldest Protestant church in the Philippines.
Responding to the call of ordained ministry in 5th grade, my Christian formation as a child and young adult was deeply United Methodist. I went to United Methodist kindergarten, grade school, and high school. I attended a conservative non-denominational Bible college, and graduated from a UMC seminary in the Philippines with highest honors.
I am a proud United Methodist and in love with my church, even as I am harmed by its policies. The grace I have experienced from my loving family, my bishops, and the Reconciling movement in the UMC continues to strengthen me in the struggle for the full inclusion and affirmation of my LGBTQ siblings. This same amazing grace calls me to embrace my faith family as it journeys through the path of perfection in love.
I can do no other but be hopeful and trust in the commitment of queer siblings and allies I am in solidarity with to hold the UMC accountable to its baptismal vows. This is why I am standing in faithful and loving resistance to evil, injustice, and oppression in all its forms, specifically the harmful policies of the church against LGBTQ persons and our loved ones.
We might differ in how we see the UMC moving forward, but I believe that we need to be unified in resisting the heightened discrimination written into our polity by the traditional plan passed by the 2019 General Conference. Some are called to resist in various ways and in different contexts, but we should resist together - not for institutional preservation but because it is our call borne out of grace and love.
I do not know what the future holds nor the expressions of Methodism that will come out of our struggle, but I am sure that LGBTQ babies will be born in our congregations across the Connection and we will make promises at their baptism. Some will be called to ordained ministry. Some will be in loving married relationships. I believe my acts of faithful resistance are concrete expressions of God’s prevenient grace on their behalf.
I urge you to join me and other faithful United Methodists in #ResistHarm. When confronted with injustice, the only recourse is to resist with all the power and might that the Spirit grants us.
I am Pat Luna (she/her), a cradle United Methodist, lay person, and member of Point Washington UMC in Santa Rosa Beach, FL (AWF annual conference). I’ve been a Jurisdictional and General Conference Delegate, involved in Emmaus, Chrysalis, Kairos, Epiphany, Disciple Bible Study, UMCOR and The Academy for Spiritual Formation, among other ministries.
I have participated and led countless committees at my church, district and conference. I also have served twice on the General Board of Church and Society. In 2001 and 2002, I was sent by Discipleship Ministries to Mozambique, to teach stewardship to the laity and clergy of that Central Conference. I am on the convening team for UMCNEXT and the Board of Reconciling Ministries Network and Mainstream. I am a Denman award winner. As you can see, I have given the best of my prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness to the UMC for the better part of my life.
I am committed to Resist Harm because it’s time for me to boldly stand up against the harm targeted at our UMC clergy who are either LGBTQ or allies. As a lay person, it is essential for us to stand and Resist Harm because we can do so much more than our clergy can! Our clergy are being bullied by people and organizations who are threatening complaints and taking away their credentials, call, and livelihood. I for one am willing to stand between the targets of harm and the bullies and say NO regardless of the costs. I do it because God is Love! (It’s in the Bible) and what God calls me to do more than anything else is to be loving.
So, clergy, LGBTQ siblings, I stand for you! Won’t you join me and become a part of Resist Harm? This is our time, laity! Let’s stand up for our clergy and those who are LGBTQ against the harm aimed at them. Stay tuned and please follow #ResistHarm on FB and share it with your friends.
Resist Harm is not an organization or a coalition. It has no employees, offices, or overhead. However, it does incur expenses for web infrastructure, promotion, printing, and organizing. We are a movement of volunteers and 100% funded by people and churches like you. Anything you give helps to make this movement more effective. To give, donate at Reconciling Ministries Network’s website and designate “Resist Harm.” 100% of your gift will pay for Resist Harm’s direct costs. RMN has graciously agreed to administer the funds donated for the Resistance movement for no charge.
Is your organization or group working to resist the Traditional Plan? We welcome engagement by all opposed to the Traditional Plan and who seek to resist evil and injustice in all forms. Please complete the following form, and we will add your organization to our growing list of partners.