Let's Talk

Whether you are from the LGBTQ Community or an ally of the Community, our life experiences can become valuable words of encouragement to other members of the LGBTQ community, as well as their friends and family members.  

By sharing your story, you will be encouraging others to share their stories, their feelings, thoughts, hopes, cares and concerns, and will be adding your point-of-view and life experiences to engage the emotions of others thus inspiring the larger community to take positive action for change.

NOTE: LGBT Community will review all stories and points of view submitted in our "Let's Talk" pages.  We reserve the right to withhold publishing content that may be construed as being inflammatory and contrary to the mission and Christian values of our organization.

 

Sharing Your Stories

Commission on a Way Forward - UPDATE

Commission on a Way Forward - UPDATE

In the interest of keeping the followers of this website updated on the work of the United Methodist Church's Commission on a Way Forward, this post provides the latest information available on Commission’s recommendations. This information has been sourced from the website of the Missouri Conference of the United Methodist Church.

In short, the Commission has studied and prepared 3 plan options to effectively address the matter of human sexuality and the United Methodist church.  These plans will be presented by the Commission on a Way forward at the 2019 General Conference in February 2019. The 3 options under consideration are the Traditional Plan; the One-Church Plan; and the Multi-Branch Plan. Through its deliberation, the Commission on a Way Forward is recommending the One-Church Plan.

Summary of The One Church Plan

“The One Church Plan removes the language from The Book of Discipline used in the United States that restricts pastors and churches from conducting same-sex weddings and annual conferences from ordaining self-avowed practicing homosexual persons. It adds language that intentionally protects the religious freedom of pastors and churches who choose not to perform or host same-sex weddings and Boards of Ordained Ministry and bishops who choose not to credential or ordain self-avowed practicing homosexual persons. Central conferences can adapt portions of The Book of Discipline for their own contextual practices and are not bound by decisions taken in Jurisdictional Conferences. This plan provides United Methodists the ability to address their missional contexts in different ways.”

For more detail on the One Church Plan and the other 2 plan options, a comprehensive report is available at the Missouri Conference website under the subject of Legislative Updates on the Commission on a Way Forward, click here

— Trish Gunby


When 'he' or 'she' doesn't fit, 'they' becomes the pronoun of choice.

When 'he' or 'she' doesn't fit, 'they' becomes the pronoun of choice.

This is Elaine Brune's story, who identifies as gender non-binary and uses the 'they/them' pronouns to best identify their gender identity.  The story is taken from an article that appeared on the front page of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Friday, 6/22. Click here to access the full article that also appeared online at the STLToday.

 

Photo: Ryan Michalesko, Post-Dispatch

— Trish Gunby


"The Way Forward" Update

"The Way Forward" Update

The Commission on a Way Forward was proposed by the Council of Bishops and approved by the 2016 General Conference to do a complete examination and possible revision of every paragraph of the Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality and explore options that help to maintain and strengthen the unity of the church. The Council of Bishops recently concluded their spring meeting.  Bishop Robert Farr has prepared his thoughts on the Council of Bishop’s work to date. Bishop Farr’s thoughts along with a link to the complete recommendation from the Council of Bishops is available here.  The Council of Bishops will be submitting their final recommondations to the Special Session General Conference in February of 2019.

— Trish Gunby


MO Conf. Reconciling Ministries Hosts LGBTQ+ Panel Discussion

 

Come listen to those most affected by the church's doctrine. The MO Conference Reconciling Team will be hosting a LGBTQ+ panel discussion and Q&A session during this year's Annual Conference on Sat., June 9, at 3:30 p.m. in Springfield, MO. Location: TBD. Learn more...

 

— Trish Gunby


RMN Spring Awakening Weekend

 

JOIN US

MO Conference Reconciling (LGBTQ+) United Methodists

Spring Awakening 

St. Louis Area /Saturday, March 3

Where:  University UMC

6901 Washington Avenue, 63130

 

2:30p......................Gathering Time

3:00.......................Transgender panel discussion

4:00.......................Q & A with panel members

4:30.......................Refreshments and RMN membership drive

5:00.......................Worship experience with Jarell Wilson, M. Div., Ph. D. Candidate at Chicago Theological Seminary and RMN Board Member. Members of area churches will participate in the service as readers, communion servers and sharing in their musical gifts. A love offering will be taken.

Come join us to hear transgender issues discussed by our panelists before our worship service.

ALL are welcome!

For more info, email ReconcilingMOAC@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

— Trish Gunby


University UMC in St. Louis Becomes a Reconciling Church

University UMC in St. Louis Becomes a Reconciling Church

University United Methodist Church in St. Louis  announced on January 23rd that it has joined the family of United Methodist Reconciling Churches and a member of The Reconciling Ministries Network.

An outward demonstration of UUMC's is found in its welcoming statement: “We invite people of all ages, races, cultures, gender identities, and sexual orientations to be you, be loved, and belong.”

Thank you for your leadership, UUMC, and welcome to the Reconciling Church family.

 

— Trish Gunby


A Message of 'Thanks'

This past summer, members of the LGBTQ Ministry Team at Manchester UMC had the opportunity to host a number of young people at a performance of "The Little Mermaid" at the Muny.  It was a whole lot of fun for all of us that attended, but especially so, for the young folks from Epworth.  

Attached is a heartfelt expression of 'Thanks' from the kids from Epworth.

  

In small ways we can perform simple acts to demonstrate love for all of God's children.

— Moe Parisien


'THEY' Wins the Day!

'THEY' Wins the Day!

Change occurs in societal norms when we first learn to accept and speak a vocabulary that is acceptable and recognized by journalists and media outlets.  In its latest edition, the Associated Press Stylebook, a widely used reference for journalists, has now embraced the use of 'they' as a singular pronoun when referencing individuals that identify with the LGBTQ community. 

“It's an important step forward for gender equality and feminist empowerment. Because of this change, transgender and gender-nonconforming people will gain greater respect and dignity in the media,” says genderqueer advocate Jacob Tobia

Paula Froke, lead editor for the AP Stylebook, said clarity is key when using 'they' as a genderless singular pronoun. “We specify that you need to make clear in the context that the ‘they’ in question is just one person,” Froke said. “We don’t, among our own staff, want to open a floodgate. But we recognize a need for it, so we want to open it a bit.  Froke continues,  “The whole issue is difficult. We worked very hard to come up with a solution that makes sense. "Clarity is the top priority. Our concern was the readers out there. Many don’t understand that 'they' can be used for a singular person.”

By recognizing the need to adopt universally accepted words to reference individuals that identify as members of the LGBTQ community, the AP Stylebook editorial staff has taken a small but important step in identifying the use of 'they' as a singular pronoun.  Kudos to the AP Stylebook editorial staff in helping to lead the way with this important move.

 

READ MORE...

— Trish Gunby


Pinwheels Comes to University City

Pinwheels Comes to University City

Pinwheels is a new program established in the heart of University City, MO that offers a safe, stigma-free gathering where families that are seeking to embrace a child or teen's gender creativity in a kind and loving way can gain support, share ideas, and build connections.

St. Louis Pinwheels is an expansion of the original Pinwheels group*, started in Chicago by a mom looking for a place for her transgender daughter to go, after hearing her say, “I’m the only kid in the world like this.”

Sometimes there will be speakers for parents and sometimes just be sharing with each other.  The kids and teens do not have group therapy or discussion groups; instead, they build friendships with other gender-expansive kids through shared activities

  • Currently, the group meets quarterly on Sundays from 1-4pm in the heart of University City for activities & hanging out for kids in elementary through high school;
  • There are opportunities for parents to share experiences and information separately from the kids’ activities;
  • Pinwheels is for immediate families (including siblings) that have already decided to accept and support their gender expansive kids and teens;
  • There will be refreshments and a time to just “be”;
  • Please contact Liz at 314-359-2478 or leithskye@gmail.com for more information and location. Please share with other families who might benefit from Pinwheels. 

Gathering Dates for 2017-2018

Sunday, September 10th, 2017; 1-4pm in University City, MO

Sunday, November 19th, 2017; 1-4pm in University City, MO

Sunday, February 18th, 2018; 1-4pm in University City, MO

Sunday, May 6th, 2018; 1-4pm in University City, MO

Come for activities, refreshments, connections, and a time to just be yourself!

  

*An article published by the Reconciling Ministries Network:  Pinwheels Article  

Pinwheels Website:  http://www.pinwheels.us/

— Liz Nelson, LCSW


LGBTQ+ Open House Nov 12th at Manchester UMC

Join us on Sunday, November 12th for our first LGBTQ+ Open House.

Gathering - 12:30 pm - West Entrance Foyer of Manchester UMC

Welcome Remarks - 12:45 pm  Food and Beverages will be served

Program Details:

       Hear from members of Manchester UMC about our LGBTQ+ Small Group

       Learn about our LGBTQ+ Family Support Group

1:15 p.m.  Music by Members of Charis: Dr. Stuart Hill, director

 

129 Woods Mill Rd., Manchester, MO 63011; 636-394-7506;  For more information: www.manchesterumc.org/lgbtq

— Trish Gunby


New group aims for LGBTQ full inclusion

New group aims for LGBTQ full inclusion

The Rev. Donald E. Messer, pictured on the left, is an organizer of the United Methodist Association of Retired Clergy, a group that does not believe church unity should come at the expense of LGBTQ Christians. Bishop Charlene Kammerer pictured on the right will be the keynote speaker at the group’s November event.

Rev. Donald E. Messer has long promoted church unity, but he says that unity should not come at the expense of LGBTQ Christians. He is an organizer of the United Methodist Association of Retired Clergy, or ARC, a new group that hopes to spread that message across the denomination.

The United Methodist Association of Retired Clergy will have its first public gathering for laity and clergy Nov. 14 with Bishop Charlene Kammerer as its keynote speaker. The event, aimed at moving “Toward an Inclusive Church,”  will be at St. Andrew United Methodist Church, in Highlands Ranch, a Denver suburb. The agenda will include how the church can help dismantle racism, as well as how the denomination can be more inclusive of LGBTQ members.

Read More...

— Trish Gunby


Praying Our Way Forward

Praying Our Way Forward

The Missouri Annual Conference has designated the week of September 17th - 23rd as a time for all of us to come together in prayer for the vital work of the Way Forward commission.
 
As you are likely aware, this commission is charged with the task of conducting a complete examination of the Book of Discipline and come up with possible revisions concerning human sexuality and explore options that help to maintain and strengthen the unity of the church.

Visit The Missouri Conference's "Praying Our Way Forward" webpage for resources to help you connect with United Methodists from around the state in praying for our Church’s mission.  Make use of the connections provided on this webpage to sign up for a prayer vigil, get devotional resources, and familiarize yourself with the members of the Way Forward commission.

— Moe Parisien


Support for Inclusion of LGBTQ Is International

Support for Inclusion of LGBTQ Is International

Our message of inclusion reaches far and wide.  Here's an email from Gohar in Pakistan who's appreciative of the work we're doing for LGBTQ persons in the life of the church.

###

Greetings to you in Jesus name,

  I am very glad to visit your website. I really appreciate the wonderful work you are doing for advancing the kingdom of God among LGTB community. I am so very motivated and impressed by it since I see so many such people here but they are helpless because they are not accepted by any Church.

     My name is Gohar, 26 years old, a Christian man from Lahore Pakistan. I have been serving Lord Jesus in various ways for over 10 years. I write and record Christian songs also. I translate Christian books into Urdu and spread the Gospel through preaching too. I also write and record worship songs. So many people are turning to Christ in Pakistan. Praise the Lord!

 I got married in 2015 and have a daughter now. My father is a Pastor at Fellowship Chapel. I participate in various activities at our Church and also involved in various ministry works in outreach areas. God is bringing revival in Pakistan.

 It will be a blessing for me to hear some words from you. I really wish to do something for this group of people so they can build a relationship with Lord Jesus freely but I will need your guidance and support in this work.

Here is my ministry webpage link:   http://fellowshipgospel.webs.com/

God bless you all more,

Gohar

— Trish Gunby


Update on Commission on a Way Forward

Update on Commission on a Way Forward

The Commission on a Way Forward is sketching plans for moving The United Methodist Church beyond its impasse around homosexuality.

At this point, commission members are not saying what those plans look like. Instead, the commission is waiting to unveil its proposals until it gets preliminary approval from the Council of Bishops in November. <<Read More>>

Prior to the meeting held in the Chicagoland area on July 19 - 21, 2017, the Commission of 32 clergy and laity set forth its goal of the group's fourth meeting following its inception coming out of UMC's latest General Conference. <<Read More>> 

— Trish Gunby


LGBTQ+ Open Discussion at Missouri Annual Conference

LGBTQ+ Open Discussion at Missouri Annual Conference

Almost 100 persons attended the two sessions at Annual Conference on "How to Start a Reconciling (LGBTQ+) Conversation at Your Church".  We had to bring in extra chairs and some stood, but it became very clear that people are interested in talking about LGBTQ+ issues in the context of the United Methodist Church.  One-third of the attendees were clergy and two-thirds were laity with all wanting suggestions and ways to initiate discussions in their local churches.  Many shared that they have gay children and the church loved them as children and they hope it still loves them as LGBTQ+ adults.

All means all!

— Trish Gunby


Alpha Class at Manchester UMC Becomes a Reconciling Community

Alpha Class at Manchester UMC Becomes a Reconciling Community

Pleased to welcome the Alpha Class of Manchester UMC into the fold. This adds yet another Reconciling Community for Manchester UMC and the MO Conference!

— Maurice Parisien


Preparation for Missouri Annual Conference

Members representing Grace UMC, Living Word UMC, Manchester UMC and Webster UMC spent time getting to know one another while sewing rainbow stoles for the upcoming Annual Conference in June. Pick one up at the RMN table!

— Trish Gunby


Gateway Men's Chorus Performs at Manchester UMC

Manchester UMC had the good fortune to host the Gateway Men's Chorus on March 19th, a big plus for the men of MUMC's Chancel Choir to join with GMC in the singing of the forth movement of Randall Thompson's The Testament of Freedom.  Joining together in support of the mission of GMC's mission:  To affirm and promote gay culture and acceptance through excellence in musical performance and education.

 

— Maurice Parisien


Your Chance to Step Up & Step In

Your Chance to Step Up & Step In

We all know that desired change does not come about on its own.  We all need to play a part to STEP UP and STEP IN to let our voices be heard make a difference.

This week in Jefferson City folks from Manchester UMC and from around the state gathered to participate in PROMO's opening day kick-off for Equality Day.  The event held on Tues., February 14th (appropriately Valentine's Day) was the opportunity to ask legislators to keep anti LGBTQ+ bills off the books and to add LGBTQ+ language to Missouri's Nondiscrimination Act (MONA).

PROMO is Missouri's statewide organization advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality through legislative action, electoral politics, grassroots organizing, and community education. 

If you were unable to attend the PROMO event, You can still support the effort by calling your State Senator, Representatives and the Governor's office and request the following:

  • Ask that your representatives take action to extend the existing Human Rights Statutes to include LGBT+ persons in MONA  Read More...
  • Let them know that you oppose SB: 98 that's been filed and is in committee.  It's harmful to transgender persons in addition to being an economic disaster since corporations would likely pull out (think North Carolina and Texas).  Read More...

Don’t know who your state legislative representative are?  Here’s a list:  http://www.senate.mo.gov/LegisLookup/default.aspx/leg_lookup.aspx

Joining me in Jefferson City this week was from left to right Barb & Dave Warmbrodt and Fern Burnett.

— Trish Gunby


Progress & Support from Boy Scouts & NFL

Progress & Support from Boy Scouts & NFL

The Boy Scouts of America and the NFL have weighed in on LGBTQ+ rights.  Thank you, Boy Scouts, for opening your ranks to transgender boys and thank you, NFL, for putting pressure on states to not pass discriminating bathroom bills.

Boy Scouts of America ...Read More

NFL Support ...Read More

— Trish Gunby


Is UMC a Reflection of Its Followers?

Is UMC a Reflection of Its Followers?

Members of the MO Conference Reconciling Team journeyed to the suburbs of Chicago to hear Bishop Karen Oliveto preach Sun., Jan. 15. Bishop Karen Oliveto and Bishop Sally Dyck gave us all much to think about.  For starters: "Is the UMC a reflection of the people that are sitting in our pews." Amen!

Pictured here with me and standing to my left are Bishop Karen Oliveto, Bishop Sally Dyck and Shelley Propst

— Trish Gunby


Live Out Your Faith Courageously

Live Out Your Faith Courageously

LGBTQ people in The United Methodist Church need everybody, in your own ways, in your own contexts, to live out your faith courageously in 2017.  Check out this short video posted today on the Reconciling Ministries Facebook page by clicking on this link.

 

 

— Trish Gunby


Getting Involved & Staying Connected

Getting Involved & Staying Connected

The new year kicks off with a lot of talking about LGBTQ+ issues in Missouri.  If you're in the St. Louis area, try to attend one of these events -- PROMO Advocacy Evening on Jan. 4 or Women's Voices Raised for Social Justice's LGBT panel discussion on Jan. 12.   It's so important we keep talking and learning more about the issues surrounding LGBTQ+ persons and these are two opportunities you won't want to miss.

— Trish Gunby


Bishop Oliveto to Speak in Chicago

Members of the MO Conference Reconciling Team will journey to the suburbs of Chicago to hear Bishop Karen Oliveto preach Sun., Jan. 15. This opportunity is one that should not be missed as she formerly pastored Glide UMC in San Francisco and is the first out lesbian to be elected bishop. She lives the message of love, acceptance, compassion, grace and mercy.

For more information on the program and tickets visit the Winter Warming 2017 - Hope for the Journey

Hope that you're able to join us!

Take a moment to view this brief message from Bishop Oliveto.

— Trish Gunby


A Setback...But the Fight Must Go On!

A Setback...But the Fight Must Go On!

As those of us that are committed to the support and furtherance of the LGBTQ movement are feeling defeated and dejected this morning by the outcome of our presidential election, we can not lose faith.  We must double down on our efforts to ensure that all people, particularly our brothers and sisters that identify with the LGBTQ community.  The following is an email that I received this morning from the president of the HRC that some of you may have already seen and read, but I thought that it important that we share these words of encouragement.  This is a setback.  It is not the end of the line.  Peace to all!

###

Throughout our nation’s history, we’ve faced devastating setbacks in our pursuit of a more perfect union. But even in the darkest of moments, Americans have summoned the courage and persistence to fight on. The results of tonight’s presidential election require us to meet tomorrow with the same resolve and determination.

This is a crucial moment for our nation and for the LGBTQ movement. The election of a man who stands opposed to our most fundamental values has left us all stunned. There will be time to analyze the results of this election, but we cannot afford to dwell. We must meet these challenges head on. 

Over the last 18 months, Donald Trump and Mike Pence have intentionally sowed fear and division for cynical political purposes. They now face a decision about whether they will also govern that way. We hope, for the sake of our nation and our diverse community – which includes women, people of color, those with disabilities, immigrants, and people of all faiths and traditions – they will choose a different path.

For our part, HRC will continue our fight for equality and justice for all with greater urgency and determination than ever before. We must. Lives literally depend on it. 

Despite the outcome of this presidential race, we know that the tide has irreversibly turned in favor of LGBTQ equality. Today, we draw strength from the vast majority of Americans who believe that our lives and rights are worth fighting for. Thanks to you and your tireless work, we deployed the largest get out the vote effort in our organization’s history. In North Carolina, it appears we have defeated the hateful Governor Pat McCrory and helped elect Roy Cooper to repeal HB2. We were proud to support Hillary Clinton, and she made history as the most pro-equality candidate to ever run for president of the United States.

The defeats we have suffered tonight demonstrate that our future victories will require us to dig deeper and work harder to continue bending the moral arc of the universe toward justice and equality. We must fight to protect our progress, and to limit the damage that Donald Trump has promised.

To every LGBTQ person across this nation feeling stunned and disheartened, and questioning if they have a place in our country today, I say this: You do. Don’t ever let anybody tell you otherwise. Be bold, be strong, and continue to stand up for the principles that have always made America great.

At a time like this, we don't slow down. We double down. Tomorrow, HRC will set to work once again, undeterred and focused on our mission to realize a world in which every single LGBTQ person is safe and equal and valued.

In solidarity,

Chad Griffin
President

— Moe Parisien


The Inside Outs Home Fellowship Group

The Inside Outs Home Fellowship Group

The Inside Outs Home Fellowship Group is a small group that has been formed to support the mission of Reconciling Ministries of MUMC. The focus will be upon spiritual growth of the group participants with an emphasis on the needs as members of the LBGTQ community. However, as with all members of a community of faith we share many common struggles, trials, and concerns as well as desires, goals, and aspirations. All are welcome to participate in this group and we strive to grow together through both our common and individual experiences. The group's first study will be A Way Through the Wilderness: Growing in Faith When Life is Hard.  If interested, we encourage you to register with the "Home Fellowship" group sign-up page at the Manchester UMC website.  When you reach the sign-up page, click on the drop down menu and select the "Inside Outs Home Fellowship Group"  Coordinated by Kurt Rehwinkel and Phillip Lynn. Register Today


Council of Bishops Commission on A Way Forward Lacks Adequate LGBTQ Representation

Council of Bishops Commission on A Way Forward Lacks Adequate LGBTQ Representation

Yesterday, the Council of Bishops announced the list of members who will make up the commission on A Way Forward - a group tasked with finding a new denominational design for inclusivity in our church. While RMN's executive director, Matt Berryman, was pleased to be invited to the table, the apparent representation of LGBTQ people on the commission remains greatly lacking. Read a statement prepared by Matt Berryman.

— Moe Parisien


A Special Message From Regional Organizers

A Special Message From Regional Organizers

We need your help in promoting a particular Facebook post co-written by all 4 of RMN's Regional Organizers.  The post can be found here on the South Central Jurisdiction FB page (pinned to the top of the page).  

We need to reach a wider audience of Reconciling United Methodists in the SCJ. Only a handful have participated thus far.  Can you please share this post on the Reconciling FB page for your conference?  

The intro to the post is also important.  We hope RUMs will do 3 things:

1.  watch the brief video intro

2.  read the blog written by all 4 organizers

3.  complete the survey

Click here to share the post (and intro)

 

Thank you in advance for your support!

— Laura Young


Reflections from Our Departing Bishop

Reflections from Our Departing Bishop

It became clear at previous General Conference Sessions that discussion around issues relating to homosexuality were becoming more contentious rather than being open and receptive to differing points of view.  The following is a link to an article published in The Missouri Conference online newsletter that we'd like to share with our followers.

We continue to pray for the United Methodist denomination that we may come to a point where we find greater inclusion for gay, lesbian, transgender brothers and sisters into the life of our church. 

— Moe Parisien


Prayers for Peace & Unity

Prayers for Peace & Unity

On June 28, 2016, Manchester UMC hosted an interfaith service of prayers for peace and unity following the events of the horrific slaughter of innocent lives at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL. One of the speakers that evening was Richard Eaton.  Beyond the wonderful sharing of his perspective as a gay man, he took a moment following the prayer service to share a single blessing that he experienced in a time of fellowship that followed the evening's service. 

The last person to approach me was a small girl who said she wanted me to know that she liked what i said.  After I thanked her, I looked to see if she had been sent by a parent, but I didn’t notice any adults watching her.  That was one of the highlights of my evening. 

 

That a child may show us the way.  I invite you to watch this short video excerpt from Richard's reflections.

 

 

— Moe Parisien


UMC Elects its First Openly Lesbian Bishop

UMC Elects its First Openly Lesbian Bishop

Now as the first elected Bishop in The UMC, Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto of Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in San Francisco, CA breaks through anti-LGBTQ law in The UMC and carries gay and lesbian people to the highest levels of church leadership. Officially barred from so many churches and positions of spiritual leadership, queer persons may now see themselves as leaders of the body of Christ in the largest mainline protestant denomination in the United States.

This is an historic moment for the United Methodist Church and the movement to bring about greater inclusion of persons that are a part of the LGBTQ community. I praise the UM church leadership and The Western Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church for paving the way to greater inclusion of the LGBTQ community.  

Read More...

— Moe Parisien


A Bride's Special Dance with Her 2 Dads

Two dads sharing that special Father-Daughter dance on her special day.  Enjoy our moment together!

— Jeff Hollinsworth


General Conference: Council of Bishops Put forth a Proposal on LGBTQ Inclusion

General Conference: Council of Bishops Put forth a Proposal on LGBTQ Inclusion

On Wednesday, May 18, 2016 the Council of Bishops (COB) made a historic step by putting forth a proposal at General Conference that represents a significant step forward and an institutional shift in the direction of inclusion and equality for people of the LGBTQ community.  The proposal was voted on at the General Conference and was accepted with a 428 - 405 vote by conference delegates.

This is the first time in the history of the UMC that the COB has put their collective voice around the cries for change and acceptance of members of the LGBTQ community.  

The proposal in its entirety can be Read Here.

Leading up to this historic action on the part of the COB, Conference delegates made their plea for the bishops to take the lead on this critically important matter.  

Read More...

— Moe Parisien


Adam Hamilton - 5 Things the General Conference Could Do Regarding Same Gender Marriage - Part 2

Adam Hamilton - 5 Things the General Conference  Could Do Regarding Same Gender Marriage - Part 2

The following is the second part of Rev. Adam Hamilton's 3 part blog on the subject of same sex marriage and what our United Methodist General Conference could do to move the church forward to becoming a more inclusive loving community.

Read On...

— Moe Parisien


Traci & Sandy's Story

I met my wife Sandy 17 yrs ago.  We were best friends for 3 yrs before we got together as a couple. When we first got together, we never really thought about church that much, because EVERYONE told us that being gay was against the teachings of the bible. My own family told me it was against God's beliefs. Sandy never told her family because they are VERY strong Catholics, and to them it is a mortal sin to be gay. So I guess you can figure, we still have not told her family we are a couple, none the less married. 

It was probably 8 years into our relationship that we decided to find a church we thought would be accepting of who we are. We went to Life Christian Church, which at the time was on Gravois in Fenton. At first, the church welcomed us with open arms, they loved us. They told us God loved us no matter what. We attended for about 1 1/2 yrs and then paid to participate in a retreat type of class called Cleansing Ministry. It was during that retreat that a small group of people approached us and said they wanted to talk to us. A couple of them were people who said they "used to be gay", but God showed them the way to his path of not living in sin. So we asked, "Are you telling us we are living in sin in your eyes??"  I went on to say. "All this time, you said we were welcome, but only on your terms, if we are not gay, correct?"  They said, "Yes". We said goodbye...one church down.

Following that experience, we did not go to church for quite awhile.  Sandy actually started going back to the Catholic church that she once attended just to be going to church.  But for me, i could not bring myself to go to yet another church that was going to tell me I was living in sin becaused I loved Sandy.  

Then my mom told me about this amazing church she attends. They are so welcoming.  You guys will be welcome there I promise.  If they don't welcome my daughters, I'm out of there. We were sure they were gay friendly, so Sandy and I went.  After attending for about 3 weeks, both Sandy and I felt that the people were insincere and Sandy stopped going.  Sandy went back to the Catholic church. I on the hand chose to stay there, this church was the Crossing in Fenton, I liked it. I met one of the female pastors. I was struggling with my faith and some personal stuff as well. The pastor said she would walk the hard journey with me. I did not hide the fact that Sandy and I were a couple. Actually Sandy and I traveled to Chicago to get married while I was attending the Crossing. The pastor told me that God loved me and it was not her place to judge, but that it was outside the teaching of the bible to be gay. She had me read a book entitled, "Washed and Waiting". The book was about a gay guy who remains living without a partner because that is what God wants gay people to do...go thru life without knowing any type of love. As time went on this pastor kept suggesting I take a break from Sandy and see if I could be happy without her. I asked her. "Would you be happy without your husband?" She told me that her situation was totally different. She was married to a man. The head pastor of the church was sending a few pastors on retreats and to seminars on how to help people who are gay. Yes, i said "how to help people who are gay".  I asked if I could be baptized, i was told,"You would be a hypocrite if you got baptized while you are gay." Shortly after that I received an email from the pastor who had been walking with me, telling me she could not talk to me anymore and that I needed to leave. Yep, leave.

Then finally, we found Union UMC, a night and day difference. From day one, they knew who we are, and that is, we are a gay married couple, and that is OK with them. Our first week at Union UMC was AMAZING, we met so many friendly, caring people. On the way home from church that first Sunday, Sandy and I were like did that just happen? Really???  My 2nd week attending Union UMC, I was baptized and I was not told I was a hypocrite for doing so. Pastor Chelsey is AMAZING, she is down to earth, she preaches and teaches about what is relevant today. Sandy and I both agree that we could listen to Pastor Chelsey preach ALL day. The Union UMC family is amazing, and yes I said FAMILY, because that is what they are to us. We have NEVER felt more comfortable anywhere else. And we finally found our church home. 

And that is our story.

— Traci & Sandy


The Simple Plan

The Simple Plan

There are many proposals coming before the 2016 General Conference to be held in Portland, Oregon, May 10th through 20th regarding the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer persons in The United Methodist Church (The UMC).

These proposals—popularly called “plans”—are attempts to rescue the institutional church from 40+ years of discriminatory harm committed against LGBTQ United Methodists.

Reconciling Ministries Network wholeheartedly endorses The Simple Plan and passionately implores the whole people of God to join together for the passage of this plan at General Conference.

I encourage all followers of the LGBTCommunity.church to take a moment and read The Simple Plan and better understand the specifics behind the proposed changes in the Book of Discipline.  And for those that will be delegates to General Conference, may you prayerfully consider this Simple Plan to make a change for the better.

 

Read "The Simple Plan"

 

 

— Moe Parisien


Members & Staff of Manchester UMC Share Their Stories

Members and staff of Manchester UMC, Manchester, MO gathered together on Wednesday evening 4/20/16 to share their personal stories of how being a part of the LGBTQ community or having family members that are either gay, lesbian or transgender has impacted lives and one's relationship with the church.  One common theme came from these stories.  Through respect and love for one another, we can all find acceptance.  Blessings on those individuals that shared their stories.  You are loved!

— Trish Gunby


What Do Methodists Have to Say?

The following quotes have been sourced from UM Interpreter Magazine.  We lift up these thoughts to demonstrate what is important and critical to the dialogue on the subject of LGBTQ rights, particularly now as we approach the time of General Conference to take place this May in Portland, OR.

My first prayer and hope for 2016 is that The United Methodist Church ACT in LOVE and abolish the disciplinary language that holds the LGBTQ community apart from full inclusion in the life of the church as members and as clergy. My second prayer and hope is that we as United Methodists never again step in to judge who is worthy of the fullness of God’s love.

Robin Foster, Red Bank UMC, Little Silver, New Jersey

My hope and prayers are for a church that is truly a sanctuary of love and acceptance for ALL. For 43 years, those in the LGBTQ community have been excluded from being full participants in the church and it’s time for our doctrine to reflect God’s love and acceptance of them just as the church did for women and those in the African-American community years ago. All means all.

Trish Gunby, Manchester UMC, Manchester, Missouri

My hope is that the when the church leaders meet at General Conference in the spring that they will adopt a resolution to change the Discipline to be totally inclusive of our gay, lesbian and transgender brothers and sisters and will allow them to marry in the church and serve God and the church in any capacity. Christ never spoke about them specifically, but he said to include all!

Pat McMillion, Monte Sano UMC, Huntsville, Alabama

My hope is for the Holy Spirit to renew us to live committed to the way of Jesus Christ and his kingdom that is tethered to our Wesleyan roots. I hope to see the Lord lead us through diversity to be truly unified by holy love for the sake of the world. I hope to see people raised up to transform local churches to reach their community for God’s glory.

Rev. G. Michael Scarlett, First UMC, Pocatello, Idaho

— Maurice Parisien


Sex Ed Curriculum to Include LGBT Issues in Parkway

Thankful for respectful discussion and a vote to update sex ed curriculum to include LGBT issues

Parkway School Board of suburban St. Louis County voted to update its sex education curriculum to include discussion of LGBT issues and inclusion.  This is a step in the right direction and places one of the largest school districts in the state of Missouri in a leadership role when it comes to revamping antiquated sex education curriculum.  Also of note:  the respect both sides showed one another during discussions was to be applauded.  Bravo for modeling adult-like behavior and demonstrating how individuals should address sensitive issues!

Read more...

— Trish Gunby


Call on Missouri Lawmakers to Do the Right Thing

Call on Missouri Lawmakers to Do the Right Thing

Republicans in the Missouri legislature are now pushing one of their misplaced priorities, a constitutional amendment that if passed by voters will enshrine discrimination against gays and lesbians into the very document that exists to protect those rights.

Missouri Republicans presented SJR 39 as a “religious freedom” bill, and to the extent that it seeks to “protect” clergy from being punished by the government for their refusal to perform same-sex weddings, it is. Except that when you consider that in a country with a First Amendment that has forever protected religious freedom, it’s inconceivable that Missouri’s government would ever consider forcing clergy to perform same-sex weddings if it violated their religious tradition.

This charade being brought forward by Missouri Republicans and their most religiously fervent voters is to use this bill as a straw man that allows them to do what the amendment actually intends: allow private businesses to discriminate against gay people.

It’s not too late.  Reach out to your MO state senators and let your voice be heard.  Should SJR 39 become law, Missouri will be a place that not only refuses to protect gays from discrimination but also creates a specific protected class for bakers, photographers and florists who refuse to provide their business services to gay people.

Learn more…

 

Pictured is Senator Bob Onder, R-Lake Saint Louis on the left and Senate Majority Leader Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City on the right.

 

— Maurice Parisien


True/False Film Fest in Columbia, MO

True/False Film Fest in Columbia, MO

Kudos to the True/False Film Fest in Columbia, MO for staging a wonderful event this past weekend. It was nice to see the rainbow "Q's" at venues around town which invite attendees to cue up before a movie. And in the background, that's Missouri UMC which hosted showings.

— Trish Gunby


New York Conference BOOM Formally Welcomes LGBTQI Candidates for Ministry

An article recently published by the UM New York Conference is being shared here for the benefit of those interested in keeping abreast of the actions being taken elsewhere in the country to recognize equality and promote respect for members of the LGBTQ community.

The article reports that all persons who seek to glorify God in word and deed and live under the lordship of Jesus Christ are invited to discern and explore their call toward ordination or licensing in the New York Conference. Sexual orientation and gender identity are not and will not be considered in the evaluation of candidates by the Board of Ordained Ministry.

Here's hoping that the General Conference will follow the lead of the New York Conference.

Learn more...

— Maurice Parisien


Campaign to Open Doors

Campaign to Open Doors

Since Nov. 30th of last year, I've been sleeping outdoors as a way to symbolize how the UM church has failed to thus far to 'open doors' to LGBTQ persons. My plan is to sleep outside thru the UM's General Conference in May. Since beginning this crusade, I've been traveling to Conference offices to raise awareness of the issue. 

Tent Witness, April 8th, Topeka, KS

I'll  be traveling to the Kansas City area on April 8th and doing a Tent Witness at the Conference office in Topeka, Kansas. I'm hopeful to be joined by the Rev. Cynthia Meyer for part of this day.

Learn More about our efforts at our website at http://www.opendoorsumc.com.

 

Rev. Cynthia Meyer, a UM pastor for over 25 years, proclaims of her gay status.

— Rev. Mike Tupper


A Father. A Church. A Movement.

Learn more about the documentary, An Act of Love, and how you can host a screening in your community.  It follows the UMC trial of Rev. Frank Schaefer who risked it all for hisgay son. This film will be a strategic and important tool used to elevate the conversation about LGBTQ rights in one of the most significant Christian denominations in the U.S. – the United Methodist Church. 

— Trish Gunby


Daron & Chris Share Their Story

Daron Smith and Chris Finley are parishioners at Lafayette Park UMC and tell their story of being active participants in the life of their local United Methodist church.

— Daron Smith & Chris Finley


I'm Encouraged

I'm Encouraged

This morning our senior pastor delivered a sermon that brought forward a message that resonated with me and spoke out against discrimination in all of its forms.  The title of the sermon was "Finding Common Ground: Recognizing our Brokenness".  In his sermon, Pastor Weeks lifted up a Facebook post of Ben Watson, Tight End for the New Orleans Saints.  Ben published this post following the Ferguson Decision back in 2014.  As Mr. Watson was sorting through his feelings regarding events on a larger scale that plague our communities and our lives, he made what I felt was a rather profound point.  Once we strip away all of the noise surrounding racial discrimination, he posited that the problem is not a SKIN problem, but rather a SIN problem. He went on to write: SIN is the reason we rebel against authority. SIN is the reason we abuse our authority. SIN is the reason we are racist, prejudiced and lie to cover for our own. SIN is the reason we riot, loot and burn.  He then shares a powerful thought of ENCOURAGEMENT. Because God has provided a solution for sin through his son Jesus Christ and with it, we as HIS followers are capable of transforming hearts and minds. 

As I thought about this reflection on discrimination, I thought about the broader implications of discrimination in all of its forms including discrimination against individuals that identify with the LGBTQ community.  And in that reflection, I find myself ENCOURAGED.  I'm encouraged that as followers of Jesus Christ that hearts and minds can be transformed and that with thoughtful consideration positive change can and will occur.  Here's to the days when we will be more accepting of one another and allow ALL people to live lives free of discrimination.

If you'd like to read Ben Watson's FB post in its entirety, you'll find it here.  

— Moe Parisien


Reflections from Dr. Kevin Carnahan

Reflections from Dr. Kevin Carnahan, author and Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Central Methodist University on his personal experiences and his affirmation of individuals that identify with the LGBTQ community.

— Dr. Kevin Carnahan


If Your Child Comes Out to You, Here Are 5 Ways to Blow it

If Your Child Comes Out to You, Here Are 5 Ways to Blow it

As a pastor who has devoted nearly two decades in ministry to students, John Pavlovitz shares some helpful advice in his blog post of January 29th.

http://bit.ly/johnpavlovitz

— Trish Gunby


Paul's Story

My son Paul shares his story of the importance of accepting and not rejecting members of the LGBTQ community into the life of the church. We hope that our story of rejection, pain and finally, joy helps others to understand the power of love that can be found within a reconciling church home.

.

— June Van Klaveren


Democratic Missouri Lawmakers Push for LGBT Protection in 2016

Democratic Missouri Lawmakers Push for LGBT Protection in 2016

St. Louis Public Radio Statehouse reporter, Marshall Griffen reported today that Democrats in the Missouri House and Senate have unveiled their agenda for this year's legislative session, and it includes several items Republican leaders have no intention of moving forward.

Those items include expanding Medicaid coverage to more low-income Missourians (HB 2201 and SB 961) and expanding the state's definition of discrimination to include LGBT people (HB 2279 and SB 653).

"Our party's goal is to leave a better Missouri for future generations," said House Minority Floor Leader Jake Hummel, D-St. Louis. "We stand ready and willing to work with Republicans to pass these common-sense bills that are widely supported by the majority of Missourians."

READ MORE...

 

With moves such as this by our lawmakers in Missouri, we can only hope that the Missouri Conference of United Methodists is not far behind.

— Maurice Parisien


IOC Offers New Guidelines for Transgender Athletes

IOC Offers New Guidelines for Transgender Athletes

Times, they are a-changin'. Earlier this week, the International Olympic Committee came out with new guidelines that say transgender athletes should be allowed to compete in the Olympics and international events without having sex reassignment surgery first. The committee says men transitioning to women need to prove their testosterone has dropped to a certain level before they can compete. In the past, athletes who were transitioning were required to have surgery and at least two years of hormone therapy before competing. The committee says it changed the policies to adapt to current attitudes on transgender issues. Caitlyn, start training.

 

Post taken from The Skimm, the daily email newsletter to start your day.

http://bit.ly/theSkimm_subscribe

— Trish Gunby


Consider Offering 'Refuge Restrooms'

Consider Offering 'Refuge Restrooms'

To truly welcome all persons into your church or business, consider making one or more of your bathrooms "gender neutral."  This is especially important for transgender, intersex and gender-nonconforming individuals who may experience harassment or physical assault when using the restroom.  All it takes is a sign change like Manchester UMC did.  That change along with a family restroom gives the church two gender neutral restrooms.  To learn more, I encourage people to visit refugerestrooms.orga website that also offers a free downloadable app for Apple iPhones for transgender individuals to be able to quickly locate safe restrooms without the worry and fear of discrimination.

— Trish Gunby


Rev. Dr. Pamela Lightsey Comes to St. Louis - January 17th!

Rev. Dr. Pamela Lightsey Comes to St. Louis - January 17th!

Rev. Dr. Pamela Lightsey (Board of Directors for RMN, Associate Dean at Boston Univ. School of Theology, and author of "Our Lives Matter: A Womanist Queer Theology") will be preaching at Wellspring Church in Ferguson, MO on January 17, 2016. She will also be attending the MLK Day On, Not a Day Off worship and service opportunity the following day.

Attend and then invite others to attend!

Read More... about Dr. Lightsey

— Trish Gunby


My Story

I am a United Methodist and I am a straight ally for the LGBTQ community working for full inclusion of LGBTQ persons within the life of the church. I did not actively seek this role. It fell on my heart over two years ago when I attended a documentary showing entitled, "A Ring of Fire," about gay boxer Emile Griffith who beat his boxing opponent to death after he called Emile a faggot. At this showing, we were given a handout with the heading, "LGBT Religious Organizations." Of the 23 religious affiliations on the handout, I saw Reconciling Ministries Network listed. This organization is working for full participation of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities in the life of the UMC. This handout bothered me, haunted me and ultimately led me to advocate for the LGBTQ community. I do not believe that being LGBTQ is a choice and I do not believe that God makes mistakes. God makes persons in all forms, and so, loves them equally. I hope and pray for doctrinal change to come out of the 2016 General Conference so that all truly means all.

 

— Trish Gunby


Honoring a Fallen Hero

Honoring a Fallen Hero

On Monday, 12/21 a motorcycle bomb attack in Bagram, Afghanistan killed 6 U.S. Troops.  Among those lives lost was Air Force Maj. Adrianna Vorderbruggen.  Maj. Vonderbruggen is remembered as much for her advocacy as her service in the military. She spent years working to repeal “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” the policy that demanded gay troops’ silence. She died one day shy of the five-year anniversary of its repeal..  When her son was born, Vorderbruggen, still restrained by “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” could not tell anyone about his impending birth. She had to guess when to take time off to coincide with her birth. To the military at the time, she was not married; at best, she had a partner.  

I offer prayers for Major Vonderbruggen, for her service to her country, along with her dedication to make positive change to realize equal rights, freedoms and privileges for all gays and lesbians.  On Wednesday of this week, Maj. Vonderbruggen’s partner, Heather and their son, Jacob were present at Dover Air Force Base to be present for the solemn ceremony to welcome home their hero.  Heather and Jacob witnessed the ceremony not in the shadows in which they lived the majority of Maj. Vorderbruggen’s career, but openly as her family.  Peace be with you Maj. Adrianna and to your family.

— Maurice Parisien


Are We Welcoming All?

As Christians do we not all believe that God has created us all in his own image.  That he gave us all his only son who suffered and died for us on the cross that we might ALL have eternal life.  I don't believe that Christ's sacrifice was for just some of us.  I for one believe that Christ came to earth as a means to demonstrate God's deep and abiding love for all his children, not for just some, but for all.  I firmly believe that we as children of God and followers of Christ need to step up, and right the wrongs of individuals and groups that speak to marginalize the rights, privileges and freedoms of individuals that are a part of the LGBTQ Community.  The love of God as expressed through his son, Jesus Christ, was intended for all people regardless of their sexual orientation.  If we are to take seriously and live the life of being true disciples of Christ, should we not express our love for all people?  Does not All mean ALL?

Your thoughts?

— Maurice Parisien