So, tonight I was reading a post on The New Methodist Facebook page. In that thread, a person was stating he did not feel as if the UMC was the right fit for him. Part of his reasoning was the failure of the UMC to be more inclusive and accepting of the LGBTQI community. Well I can certainly understand his feelings; what disturbed me was the advice he was receiving from others. Many suggested he move to the UCC or a Disciples of Christ congregation. At least one mentioned the Episcopal Church. There was some invective used with regard to “evangelical” fundamentalists” and those seeking schism. When I posted, after reading 101 postings on this thread, I could hold back no longer. This is what I said:
“As a person of color, I have to say I am disappointed in both sides of this discussion. Separate from the African and Filipino United Methodists! (Yes, someone actually posted this as a means to becoming more inclusive). Not one of you planning on leaving would ever consider another Methodist tradition, such as the CME, AME or AMEZ. Don’t pretend it’s over doctrinal similarities. It is white privilege showing. I was a speaker at Gather at the River in San Antonio a few years back. Prior to going, I checked with GCFA regarding the demographics of Travis Park UMC. In a community that is approximately 70% Hispanic, this reconciling congregation is 95% Caucasian. Why? Because we have focused so much on the LGBTQI debate as a denomination that we have forgotten to be the Body of Christ. The only Annual Conferences in the U.S. to see positive growth last year were The Dakotas, Red Bird Missionary and Northwest Texas. Each of those growth spurts were fueled by people of color joining the UMC. Frankly, I see both the Reconciling movement and the Confessing movement doing irreparable harm to the denomination. The antics of both led to the elimination of GCORR and GCSRW at GC2012 only to be revived by the Judicial Council. Both were on the chopping block in 2016 but the Judicial Council stepped in and ruled on the constitutionality before GC. Disability Ministries Committee of the UMC was created at GC2012 only to be removed from the BOD by GBGM at GC2016. HIV/AIDS Committee lost funding and couldn’t hold its annual meeting because of the same legislation. (An addendum: The Parish Nurse and Older Adult Ministry programs also lost funding.) I am truly ashamed of what has become of the denomination, by the ethnocentric, self-serving agendas of RMN, MFSA, WCA, Good News, IRD and the Confessing movement. And the general tenor of all the comments in this thread is precisely why.”
He responded with a critique that I was trying to guilt the poster by introducing a non-sequitur of white privilege where it did not belong. My response was basically that his comment pretty much proved my point.
I was then blocked by this poster from further reading or contributing to this thread.
I went back to the page, with the help of my wife’s account, to see what other responses were there. One chastised him stating his action in blocking me was “un-Godly.” No one addressed my comments. Nor has anyone reached out to me as they apparently don’t see my perspective as valid or worth addressing.
Those of you who know me know the work I do for the denomination, know the work I do ecumenically, and know the work I do professionally. If there is anyone qualified to make the statement I did in this thread, it is me. I have been an ally of the Reconciling movement for well more than a decade AND I have worked side-by-side with those in the Confessing movement. I may be criticized for being critical of both sides of the “big issue” before GC2019 and GC2020, but that’s okay. The bigger issue is that we have further marginalized persons of color, the disability community, those living with HIV/AIDS, women and the poor in an effort to stand with one side or the other in this doctrinal debate.
The debate is an important one, but not at the expense of all these other groups and certainly not at the expense of losing sight of what it means to be the Body of Christ. Read my words from The New Methodist thread. I believe they are words that we, as a denomination need to hear. There is more at stake in 2019 and 2020 than just this one issue.
Perhaps we have been listening to the wrong voices for too long.