Direct Action
and Advocacy

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Host a Direct Action

Protest is at the heart of the Gospel. If protest is the antithesis of complicity in, apathy toward, or callousness in the face of suffering, then it is the definition of Jesus’ ministry! As we organize our communities in response to the Traditional Plan, we will need to follow the way of Jesus and stand between the implementation of these oppressive policies and the LGBTQIA persons and allies directly threatened by them.

Neutrality, as Archbishop Tutu reminds us, is not an option.

When we talk about protest, we are actually referring to two different kinds of action:

Direct Action Activism involves direct action(s) that place oneself between an oppressive force and those that force seeks to oppress. It risks one’s own well-being for the sake of another who, without intervention, will be denied the "abundant life" at the heart of Jesus’ ministry (John 10:10).
Advocacy involves the ongoing ways we harness the energy and awareness built through public actions to create change in our congregations, communities, and world.

In our theologically and contextually diverse denomination, we know that not every community will be able or ready to engage in a sit-in or physical demonstration. But there are many ways you can engage in protest no matter your community’s position or perspective.

For Moderate Churches and Churches in Conservative Annual Conferences

  • Invite LGBTQ persons to give testimony and participate in regularly scheduled worship services.
  • Participate in virtual demonstrations.
  • Hire seminary-trained LGBTQ individuals as associates and into staff positions. Publicly celebrate and announce your new hires (if the individuals hired are comfortable with that).
  • Elect as many progressive Annual Conference delegates as possible.
  • Continue to pay apportionments but send a letter of protest with each payment.
  • Align your ministry with a local LGBTQ civil advocacy group.
  • Appoint LGBTQ individuals and allies to the Board of Ordained Ministry (BoOM) and District Committees on Ordained Ministry. Prepare to send letters to your bishop urging the appointment of LGBTQ individuals and allies.
  • Witness at your conference office: take an open letter to the bishop, meet with the bishop, share stories, and ask them to do no more harm to LGBTQ people and allies.
  • Invite LGBTQ individuals to be guest preachers and publicize their appearance at your church before and after their preaching.
  • Schedule a pre- or post- Annual Conference gathering of people interested in learning about how they might support their LGBTQ members.
  • Write op-ed pieces for your local paper pertaining to the importance of full LGBTQ inclusion in the Church.
  • Start a mass letter- or email-writing campaign.

For Reconciling Congregations and Those Committed to Radical Inclusion

  • Continue to stay and stand in resistance until we are better positioned to live into the new expression of the Church.
  • Perform as many same-sex weddings as possible.
  • Ask for LGBTQ clergy to be appointed to your church.
  • Hire LGBTQ individuals to staff positions at your church.
  • Elect as many progressive Annual Conference delegates as possible.
  • Witness at your conference office: take an open letter to the bishop, meet with the bishop, share stories, and don’t leave without making a clear ask.
  • Invite LGBTQ individuals to be guest preachers, and publicize their appearance at your church before and after their preaching.
  • Schedule a pre- or post- Annual Conference gathering of people interested in learning about how they might support their LGBTQ members.
  • Suspend apportionment payments and put funds into an escrow account, OR organize other churches in your Annual Conference to send letters of protest with payment of their apportionments.
  • Advertise your welcome & inclusion of LGBTQ people in your Conference newspaper, local secular newspaper, or similar outlets.

Additional options for direct action activism and advocacy include but are not limited to:

  • Virtual protests on social media
  • Sit-ins or walk-outs
  • Mass letter or email-writing campaigns
  • Petitions
  • Building signage and banners

All of these are ways we can make our voices heard, build mutually supportive relationships, and resist the Traditional Plan. To learn more about the basics of organizing or participating in a direct action, download the planning guide below.

Direct Action Planning Guide

If you’re planning an action or protest, we encourage you to understand your state’s laws about direct action and assembly. This resource from FindLaw can help you find information about your state.

January Resist Harm Direct Action and Advocacy

With the Traditional Plan going into effect on January 1, 2020, we strongly encourage you to consider scheduling a direction action or advocacy opportunity for your community/congregation. This is the time to make our voices heard and empower our congregations to speak out against the harm that the Traditional Plan will cause the people, congregations, and communities we call home. In addition to the above suggestions, consider:

Write a letter to your Bishop & Conference Leaders asking them to stop the harm.

Write a personalized letter to your Bishop and leaders of your conference asking them to stop the harm and to agree to not facilitate or move on trial complaints against LGBTQIA clergy or clergy who perform same-gender weddings. An example letter can be found here, but you will need to write the letter to coincide with your Bishop’s response to the Traditional Plan.

Schedule & host a virtual direct action in January.

We invite all of our participating congregations and communities to take pictures of themselves, their classes, or congregations holding Resist Harm signs and post them on social media with the hashtag #ResistHarm. You can create your own Resist Harm 8.5 x 11 and 11 x 17 signs by downloading files, banners, and other resources from our Communication Tools.

Write a letter to support or encourage your Bishop or Conference Leaders if they have refused to process complaints or trials.

If your Bishop or Conference has already made a statement that they will not process complaints or trials, write a letter expressing support and appreciation. If you have reason to believe that your bishop or conference is not going to process complaints, write a letter encouraging them to be prophetic leaders.

For example, The Western Jurisdiction Bishops pledged to not process any complaint against LGBTQ+ clergy or clergy who officiate same-gender weddings, so a letter of support and appreciation would be appropriate. Where we have reason to believe the bishop is not going to process complaints, we would encourage a positive word as you encourage them to be a prophetic leader.

Host a direct action at your Episcopal Office, congregation, or some other strategic location in your annual conference.

In some contexts, it might be best to hold a direct action at the episcopal offices and hand deliver a letter with large numbers of people. In other contexts, the letter to the bishop might be more strategically delivered online and signed by as many people as possible with a direct action organized at a location other than the episcopal office. The purpose of having larger numbers of people on hand is to show our solidarity and overwhelming local opposition to the Traditional Plan, not to be intimidating or threatening to the bishop or to episcopal staff.

Remember, even if the bishop isn’t supportive of our efforts, many of the people in the conference or episcopal offices may be. We know that a majority of the bishops in the U.S. find fault with the Traditional Plan just as much as we do. So, discern what will be the most effective way to share your witness and win allies to the cause of LGBTQ justice and inclusion.

For example, in Alabama-West FL, there is a plan to set up a meeting with the bishop with a large number of attendants. They plan to ask him to do no harm and process no complaints, and to offer to lay lands on him as they pray for God’s guidance. For the Alabama-West FL context and bishop, planners have decided that will be the most effective. What is best for your context?

Upcoming Events

Love: A Worship Service Affirming Commitment & Connection

February 1, 2020 1:00 pm
Boston Avenue UMC
1301 S Boston Ave, Tulsa, Oklahoma 74119
Hosted by: Boston Avenue UMC, St. Paul's United Methodist Church Tulsa, 13th Street Worship at Boston Avenue

Love: A Worship Service Affirming Commitment & Connection - This service is part of a monthly worship series in holy resistance to the Traditional Plan as we affirm LGBTQ+individuals as beloved children of God.

Within the service, we will make vows of commitment to each other as a community joined together in our love for each other, and in our conviction to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves

This event is open to all, and includes activity stations and a children’s sermon. We hope to see you there!

For more information about resistance to the Traditional Plan, and the Resist Harm movement, visit www.resistharm.com

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Beyond Shame: Creating a Healthy Sex Life on Your Own Terms

February 15, 2020 7:00 pm
Mission Hills UMC
4044 Lark Street, San Diego, CA 92103
Hosted by: Mission Hills UMC, MissionGathering San Diego and SD Pride

Matthias Roberts, queer therapist, author, and host of popular podcast Queerology, will be coming to speak about his new book "Beyond Shame: Creating a Healthy Sex Life on Your Own Terms" at Mission Hills UMC. This event will be in partnership with MissionGathering San Diego, and will include a panel in partnership with SD Pride with faith leaders engaging in dialogue about shame in their particular contexts. #ResistHarm

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Building An Inclusive Church -- Cincinnati, OH area

February 1, 2020 9:00 am
Epiphany United Methodist Church
6635 Loveland Miamiville Rd, Loveland, OH 45140
Hosted by: Tri-State Reconciling Ministries

This training is being offered for persons in United Methodist congregations who want to learn more about the process for becoming a Reconciling Congregation. A Reconciling Congregation is a local church that publicly and actively welcomes LGBTQ persons and their families. Often these congregations have support groups and fellowship opportunities for LGBTQ persons.
#ResistHarm

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The Current: Inclusive - Relevant - Spirit-FIlled

March 28, 2020 1:00 pm
Christ Church, Bethel Park
44 Highland Rd, Bethel Park, PA 15102
Hosted by: The Current: Laity and clergy in the WPAUMC who are resisting harm and fighting for full inclusion.

Have you ever seen a picture of Jesus with his arms folded shut? Typically Jesus is depicted with his arms wide open. What would it look like to be a part of a church that has her arms wide open?

On March 28th all who want to live into that reality are invited to gather at Christ Church, Bethel Park. We will be led in a time of inspiring worship, relevant messages, and energizing conversation, as we envision a fully inclusive and theologically diverse United Methodist Church!

We have a host of engaging speakers which include Junius B. Dotson as our key-note guest. Also included is Mitchell Hortert speaking on LGBTQIA+ Safe Spaces, Jane Ellen Nickell speaking on UMC History: Race, Gender & Sexuality, Steven Tuell on Inclusive Biblical Interpretation, Sarah Gallagher and Sarah Speedy on Hear Us: A young Adult Perspective and Dawn Hand and Eric Park on General Conference Possibilities and Local Church Responses.

This event will inform and organize participants who affirm ministry with and for LGBTQIA+ persons. More information and registration details can be found at thecurrentwpa.com. #ResistHarm

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Roll Down, Justice

January 20, 2020 10:00 am
St. John's UMC
1207 Peabody Avenue, Memphis, TN 38104
Hosted by: UMCNext Memphis

We look forward to gathering with you on Martin Luther King day as we continue to seek God's justice for all of God's beloved community. Please help us share the word and invite your friends and fellow United Methodists to join us on Jan. 20.

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Still Beloved: #ResistHarm

January 12, 2020 6:30 pm
First United Methodist Church of Ann Arbor
120 S. State St., Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Hosted by: The Wesley Foundation at the University of Michigan

12 days in to the new year, we gather to worship and to resist the harm done by the Traditional Plan. We gather to celebrate God’s inclusive love. This evening of worship will include the voices and stories of LGBTQIA+ people of faith, music, and practical ways in which United Methodists in Michigan are responding to and resisting the actions of the UMC. We believe that God loves all people, we believe that all means all!

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Sacred Story - An LGBTQ Christian Retreat

February 28, 2020 8:00 pm
Colby Rancg
Colby Ranch Road, Plmdale, CA 93550
Hosted by: Cal-Pac LGBTQIA+ Task Force

This will be a time for retreat in the mountains with the LGBTQIA young adult community to share in recreation, the arts, friendship-building and story sharing.
We will come together to worship, listen to speakers, participate in workshops, and experience the Creator in the heart of their creation.
#ResistHarm

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Love is Love

January 5, 2020 10:30 am
LA FIRST UNITED METHODIST
1020 south flower st LA
Hosted by: LA First United Methodist

Since beginning pastoral ministry in 2003, it has always been my tradition to celebrate the "Festival of the Christian Home," on Mother’s Day, which is a beautiful way to consider the inclusiveness of this particular day. This is a United Methodist term, and our tradition believes that we can use this as an opportunity to strengthen our homes as a place for living justly, celebrating the fullness of our creation as individuals and families of all compositions.

It has always been true - from Biblical times until today - that families have had a variety of ways in which they are expressed. Many of us have dear and close relationships with our families of origin, but so many of us do not. In light of that, we have found ways to create families of choice, form covenant relationships with spouses and partners, and become loving and caring people to children of all ages.

This Sunday at Los Angeles First United Methodist Church, we will offer a Blessing of Families liturgy, in which we, as individuals, couples, families of choice and families with children, are invited to come forward to be anointed and blessed. This ritual serves a dual purpose, both to honor the people who have parented and loved us, as well as to honor the many ways in which we have created our families. I wrote this liturgy in 2008 for use at Saint Mark United Methodist Church, as a way to recognize the covenant relationships that existed between same-gender couples, but had never had the opportunity of being blessed or recognized in the church due to the prohibitive nature of the rules in our Book of Discipline.

I pray that you will bring those dear to you to our service of worship, so that we can celebrate this special day together. We are doing this in conjunction with other #ResistHarm movements around the world, to recognize the ways in which we can stand in support of our LGBTQIA siblings, and actively resist evil, injustice, and oppression in all the ways they present themselves.

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#ResistHarm Virtual Action

January 5, 2020 11:00 am
Los Altos UMC
5950 E Willow St., Long Beach CA 90808
Hosted by: Los Altos UMC

On Sunday, January 5, we invite folks to take pictures of themselves, families, friends, groups, pets! (all means all!) with #ResistHarm signs and post them on social media with the hashtag #ResistHarm. You bring your smile for justice and camera and we got the signs!

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Resist Harm Worship Service

January 5, 2020 5:30 pm
Trinity United Methodist Church
1021 W Sycamore St, Fayetteville, AR
Hosted by: UMCNext AR chapter

A worship service to address the intent of the #resistharm. The service will include hymns, prayers, scripture and communion. Childcare will be provided. All are welcome. Reception to follow.

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Renewal of Marriage Vows for All Couples

January 1, 2020 1:00 pm
United Methodist Church of Palm Springs
1555 E. Alejo Road, Palm Springs, CA
Hosted by: United Methodist Church of Palm Springs

We are inviting all couples, gay and straight, to renew their marriage vows and all people (single, partnered, widowed, married non-renewing) to come and stand for love and justice! Officiant is Rev. Jane Voigts

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Meeting with Bishop Johnson

January 1, 2020 4:00 pm
Peninsula-Delaware Conference Resource Center
139 N State St, Dover, DE 19901
Hosted by: UMC Next Pen-Del

Bishop Johnson recently wrote a pastoral letter, in which she stated that she would not refer to trial complaints against clergy for officiating same-sex weddings or being self-avowed practicing homosexuals.

Join us in meeting with the Bishop, as we deliver letters of thanks and support for her decision. She has taken a stand - let's demonstrate that we stand with her!

All supporters are encouraged to write a personal letter. We will organize drop-off points for people who are unable to deliver their letters in person.

You can read Bishop Johnson's full pastoral letter letter here:
https://myemail.constantcontact.com/Pastoral-Letter-from-Bishop-Peggy-A--Johnson.html?soid=1115113910561&aid=7LjssjZRysk

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Epiphany Worship And #Resist Harm

January 4, 2019 2:00 pm
St Paul Benson
5410 Corby St. Omaha, Nebraska 68104
Hosted by: UMCNext, Mainstream and Reconciling Ministries Network

Join us on to celebrate the Epiphany story and reclaim our baptismal vows as we offer ourselves as a living resistance to the Traditional Plan. God calls us, as wise people to go home by another way. Join us for worship, an opportunity to write letters expressing opposition to the Traditional Plan, and learn about resources you can use to join the movement to #ResistHarm in the Great Plains and the United Methodist Church.

Two new helpful websites: www.greatplainsumcnext.com for the Great Plains-curated resource page or www.resistharm.com for more resources and options.

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Resist: A Worship Service Protesting the Harm of the Traditional Plan

January 5, 2020 7:00 pm
Tulsa--St. Paul's United Methodist Church; Oklahoma City--Mosaic United Methodist Church; Lawton--St. Paul's United Methodist Church
Tulsa--1442 S. Quaker Ave; OKC--3130 NW 50th; Lawton--910 NW 38 St.
Hosted by: OKUMC for Equality

This "Resist" worship service is an act of protest to the harm brought by the Traditional Plan (passed at General Conference 2019) which goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

All are welcome to join us for a worship service that will include song, prayer, and a time of collective action as we unite to resist the injustice, discrimination, and harm of the traditional plan, and as we affirm our commitment to the inclusion and acceptance of all God's children especially our LGBTQIA+ siblings.

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Covenantal Celebration of Holy Marriage

December 29, 2019 6:30 pm
First United Methodist Church - Dallas
1928 Ross Avenue Dallas, Texas 75201
Hosted by: First United Methodist Church - Dallas

All married couples are invited to this special worship service celebrating the sacred covenant of marriage, which will be followed by a reception. This service is part of the slate of recommendations from the Church at the Crossroads Commission, which developed FirstChurch’s official response to the passing of the Traditional Plan at the called General Conference this past February.

This will be a worship service where any married couple can reaffirm their vows to one another. A reception in Fiedler Atrium will be held after the service .

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Blessing of Unions

January 12, 2019 10:30 am
Bering Church
1440 Harold St Houston, TX 77006
Hosted by: Bering Church

Blessing of Unions Sunday January 12, 2020

On January 1, 2020, the “Traditional Plan,” adopted narrowly by delegates at the February 2019 Special General Conference of the United Methodist Denomination, goes into effect. The plan is anything but “Traditional” as it is a radical departure from the Wesleyan/Methodist tradition of grace. Under this plan, clergy who are found guilty by trial of performing a same-gender wedding, regardless of circumstances, are suspended for a minimum of one year without pay. The second time, they are stripped of their credentials without recourse. The plan also prohibits bishops from ordaining “self-avowed” “homosexuals” and places additional punitive measures in the already discriminatory United Methodist Book of Discipline which falsely labels living out one’s God-given identity as LGBTQAI+ as “incompatible with Christian teaching,” singling out LGBTQ persons for harm.

Bering Church unequivocally denounces the “Traditional Plan” and the portions of the Book of Discipline that discriminate against LGBTQAI+ persons, couples and families. Beginning January 1, 2020, In opposition to the harmful actions of the United Methodist denomination in implementing this plan, Bering Church (formerly referred to as Bering Memorial UMC) will not use “United Methodist” in any of its communications until the discrimination ends. Additionally, the January 12, 2020 10:50 am worship service will be a protest against this plan and a celebration and affirmation of all LGBTQAI+ couples and families who are being discriminated against by it. During worship, a special blessing will be offered for all same gender couples and families because they are the ones being discriminated against by the denomination. We will bless, affirm, protest and celebrate in worship and at the reception immediately following the worship service.

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A Different Way

January 5, 2020 11:00 am
Hollywood UMC
6817 Franklin Ave, Hollywood, CA 90028
Hosted by: Hollywood UMC

#ResistHarm worship service. LGBTQ focus and launch of book project which will comprise stories of harm received by LGBTQ people and the healing they have received at Hollywood UMC. Group photo of all those in attendance will be taken all holding #ResistHarm posters. LGBTQ Associate Pastor preaching (also is the LGBTQIA Advocacy Coordinator for the Cal-Pac annual conference). #Resistharm fence line banner will be displayed from 1/1/20.

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#resistharm worship service

January 5, 2020 5:30 pm
First UMC- Little Rock
723 Center Street, Little Rock, AR 72201
Hosted by: Arkansas UMCNext

The service will be lgbtq led, with support from allies. The homily will be delivered by Bonnie Allen, Chicago, IL. Allen is a graduate of Rhodes College, and received her law degree from the University of Florida College of Law. She has a Masters in Theological Studies from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. Currently, Allen is the CEO of the Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights. All are welcome.

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Great Plains Resist Harm Kickoff

January 4, 2020 10:00 am
Countryside UMC
3221 SW Burlingame Rd, Topeka, KS 66611
Hosted by: Great Plains UMCNext, Mainstream UMC and Reconciling Ministries Network

We will gather for Epiphany worship at Topeka Countryside UMC followed by a trip to the Great Plains Conference office to deliver the letters to Bishop Saenz from the GP UMCNext letter writing campaign. To send a letter, be sure to check out the instructions in the November issue of the GP UMCNext News: https://us3.admin.mailchimp.com/campaigns/show?id=3756829 More info to come.

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Meeting with Bishop Graves

January 6, 2020 9:00 am
AWF Episcopal Office
4719 Woodmere Boulevard Montgomery. AL 36106
Hosted by: AWF RMN Groups and others who want to ResistHarm

On January 6th a group of laity and clergy will be meeting with Bishop Graves. This meeting has been set up with Bishop Graves for 9:00 AM. We appreciate Bishop Graves meeting with us even though he is hosting the SEJ Bishops later that day. Please join us as we meet with him, ask him to be supportive of a more inclusive church, ResistHarm, and so many United Methodists who are opposed to the Traditional Plan and the other discriminatory language of The Discipline. We will also ask him if we could pray for him. This is a difficult time! We need as many people as possible to participate! Please come and be supportive!

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Host a Resist Harm Direct Action

Thank you for stepping up to host a Resist Harm direct action. Don’t forget to register your event with Resist Harm and advertise on social media and with local churches to get the word out. Please fill out the form below to submit your direct action. Once approved, it will be promoted on this site!

A direct action should be family friendly, accessible, nonviolent, and legal. We want as many people as possible to feel comfortable attending these direct actions as possible.

Guidelines for Hosting a Direct Action

Direct actions are not sponsored by Resist Harm but Resist Harm provides tools, resources and promotion (where possible) for direct actions focused on resisting the Traditional Plan or other forms of evil and injustice. Resist Harm relies on volunteer direct action hosts to plan and organize the direct actions; those volunteer hosts, and not Resist Harm, are the sole organizers of all direct actions on this site. By submitting this form you agree, as the host of a direct action, that:

  • You are responsible for planning and supervising your direct action and ensuring that it is carried out in a safe and legal manner;
  • You will not request, direct, or knowingly permit anyone acting on your or your 
organization’s behalf to request or direct, any participant at your direct action to engage in any unlawful activity, including unlawful nonviolent direct action;
  • You will obtain any permits required for your direct action and comply with any requirements;
  • You will communicate and coordinate with local law enforcement authorities to make them aware of your direct action and offer to coordinate and cooperate with them in arranging for security of event participants and the public, to the extent applicable, necessary, or required by law;
  • Although Resist Harm is in a support role, you agree that Resist Harm does not necessarily authorize or adopt any statements or conduct made or undertaken by you or attendees at your event; and
  • Resist Harm, its partner organizations and any individual involved in Resist Harm or any partner organization do not assume or accept any liability for any injury to any person or damages to any property occurring in the course of, or by reason of, a direct action you organize as host.

What is the name or description of the group hosting the direct action?

What is this direct action about? Please include any special directions or other notes.

When does the direct action begin?

Where does it take place? Please remember to secure any permits that might be necessary.

What is the address for the direct action's location?

How can people contact you with questions?

If yes, Resist Harm will not recruit people to attend your direct action.

Minimum dimensions: 120x120 pixels; Maximum dimensions: 1800x800 pixels; Accepted image types: jpg, png

Link to your group's page or the Facebook event for this direct action.

For information on hosting a same gender wedding, we recommend the resources at MarriageRites.org.

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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.

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Resist Harm is organized by everyday United Methodists in every corner of the connection and is supported by a number of organizational partners.* To learn more about our partners, visit their websites:
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