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.
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