Growing numbers of United Methodists are actively resisting the harm caused by anti-LGBTQ+ policies and practices of the United Methodist Church. With three months until General Conference convenes in Charlotte, North Carolina, the movement is making a difference in communities across the denomination, and for our direction as a United Methodist Church.
As we prepare for General Conference, we continue to collect and share descriptions of the harm that is caused by the church, as well as testimonies of faithfulness and inclusion. We have renewed energy for providing resources for worship and prayer, for advocacy and direct action, as we continue to embody the fullness of the grace of Jesus Christ, which comes to all, without exception. We invite others to join our movement--sharing their stories and speaking up about our desire to stop harm against LGBTQ+ people in our communities.
The Resist Harm movement was launched in the wake of General Conference 2019, during which our denomination added even more harmful, anti-LGBTQ+ policies to our Book of Discipline. The movement gained quick momentum among United Methodists who wanted to clarify that these hateful and exclusionary decisions were out of sync with the Gospel. Resist Harm sought to give assistance to folks in actively resisting this harm, and mitigating its consequences.
In the weeks and months after that 2019 General Conference, the voice of faithful resistance was heard. Across the denomination, the cruel rules we adopted have not been widely enforced, as a vast majority of our Bishops have held complaints in abeyance. Instead, local churches and Conferences have stepped out in new and bold ways, clarifying that we understand the Gospel call to welcome all in our churches. We have now, for the first time, an organized Queer Delegate Caucus, a reflection of the commitment of Annual Conferences in electing and sending leaders to General Conference that reflect the diversity of the church and our recognition that LGBTQ+ folks are already faithful leaders in our midst.
Now, as we prepare for General Conference, we continue to seek a faithful way forward, knowing that we cannot continue to perpetuate harm. We are grateful for the faithful work of partner organizations and groups, who offer their particular wisdom and labor to this work in the denomination. We are excited by new partners who join this movement, and also by the long faithfulness of those who have been engaged for decades, like the Reconciling Ministry Network. We encourage those who would join us to take a next step--one that makes sense for you and your context--as we each play a part in the long work toward justice.
The Resist Harm movement continues to have three goals:
- To stand in solidarity against harmful and discriminatory UMC practices and language and in shared witness as a Church committed to justice for and in ministry with all persons.
- To raise the visibility of United Methodists who seek a church that affirms all ages, nations, races, classes, cultures, gender identities, sexual orientations and abilities.
- To support those directly experiencing harm because of the discriminatory and punitive provisions of the Traditional Plan.
The group has launched ResistHarm.com to support individuals, local groups and churches who also oppose the church’s anti-LGBTQ stance. The website contains tools and resources on prayer, worship, education, direct action, clergy support, and social media use. The website will be updated regularly.
Many groups within the United Methodist Church have signed on to support Resist Harm, including UMCNext, Reconciling Ministries Network, Methodist Federation for Social Action, Mainstream, Uniting Methodists, Western Methodist Justice Movement, UM Scholars, All Belong, Affirmation, and the Love your Neighbor Coalition.