After the UMC General Conference vote in February that tightened restrictions on the inclusion of LGBTQ persons in the United Methodist Church, the Draw the Circle Wide Task Force (DTCW) committed to finding ways for Glenn to:
engage fully in working toward a new inclusive Methodism, whether through changes to the UMC denomination or through the creation of a new entity;
engage in active resistance, combined with education, advocacy, and support, until a fully inclusive Methodism is born.
Here is a quick look at where we are now.
An Inclusive Methodism
The deadline for submission of legislation to be considered at the May 2020 General Conference was September 18. While we don’t yet have information about all the legislation proposed, we do know that various plans for the future of the UMC have been developed. These plans include ones that call for the dissolution of the denomination, for disaffiliation provisions, for the division of the denomination into various conferences, for the elimination of any language regarding LGBTQ persons from the Book of Discipline, and for strengthening punishments for violations of the current provisions of the Book of Discipline. Once details of the legislation to be considered at the Conference are made available, Glenn will be able to advocate for plans that we believe best reflect what our faith calls us to be as a church. As a reminder, both Blair Setnor and Jay Horton are delegates to the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference of the UMC. Good resources for staying up to date with what is happening in the denomination include umnews.org, mainstreamumc.com, and hackingchristianity.net. These sources can also be followed via social media.
Resistance, Education, Advocacy and Support
Mark Westmoreland is currently leading a book study looking at what the Bible has to say about sexuality, morality, LGBTQ persons and all persons, structured around Steve Harper’s recent book, Holy Love: A Biblical Theology for Human Sexuality. The book study is meeting Wednesdays at 7:00 pm in room 401 of the Church School Building and all are welcome.
The task force is working with the Altar Guild to modify the language in Glenn’s wedding brochure. The new language will provide “Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church welcomes weddings for all couples who wish to plan a church wedding. As a Reconciling Ministries Network church, we are happy for our hospitality to extend to couples of all gender identities and sexual orientations. Our Sanctuary and Little Chapel can be used as venues for same-sex weddings because the buildings are owned by Emory University rather than by the church. Glenn welcomes and works with visiting clergy to celebrate holy unions of all kinds, including same-sex weddings, as described elsewhere in this brochure.” The language goes on to say that, although UMC ministers are currently prohibited from performing same-sex weddings, Glenn “continue[s] to be a community committed to loving God and loving neighbor and to be a church actively involved in resisting the doctrinal discrimination occurring in our denomination.”
At least 20 members of Glenn will be marching in the Pride Parade on October 13. We have also invited other UM churches and area Reconciling Ministries Network members to join with us. DTCW has already committed to marching and hosting a booth for the 2020 Parade. It is not too late to register to walk this year: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/70a0845abac28aafa7-walk
Over $400 from Glenn’s Pride Parade t-shirt sales is being donated to Lost-N-Found Youth, an Atlanta-based non-profit that works to end homelessness for LGBTQ+ youth. These funds will support that organization’s work to provide emergency and transitional housing, emergency clothing and food for youth on the street, mental health evaluations and counseling, referrals to HIV/STD testing, health and dental services, referrals to GED training/testing and other education resources, and more. To learn more about Lost-n-Found Youth, including opportunities for volunteering, go to www.lnfy.org.
DTCW is working with Emory to update our bathroom signage in the Church School Building and the Sanctuary to make it more inclusive. This includes designating bathrooms in each building as All Gender, providing signage for secure All Gender bathrooms, and improving our signage for accessible bathrooms. You may have noticed some temporary signage that DTCW has installed as we wait on Emory to install permanent signage.
The DTCW task force continues to work with other United Methodist churches and individuals to bring just and gracious solutions that move the church forward in its ministry to make disciples for the transformation of the world. We believe in the church and in the grace and call of Jesus Christ for all people, and we continue to work in the Holy Spirit to make real the church God calls us to be.