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.