Published: Tuesday, Jul. 13th, 2021
Love Prevails announced their departure from the United Methodist Church denomination in a powerful open letter, released June 28.
After a decade of activism for LGBTQIA+ people within the UMC, the group says that it no longer believes the Methodist denomination to be capable of change. With the letter, Love Prevails says that it “releases itself from the UMC denomination which, for its entire existence, has proved to be an adversary of grace and justice for God’s Queer people.”
“We once thought the church’s proclamations of grace were simply ironic, but now we understand them to be wicked hypocrisy. We wrongly assumed that the UMC would eventually change its policies and welcome Queer people, if only out of institutional preservation. We failed to realize that the church would rather destroy itself than become fully inclusive. And now, because we hold no hope that the UMC will live out its highest stated values, we cannot counsel anyone of good conscience to remain in this denomination.” — excerpt from ‘An Open Letter to Members and Leaders of the United Methodist Church’
The group’s decision to depart the UMC was followed 2 days later by the retirement of Rev. Amy DeLong, the pastor around whom the group first formed in 2011.
At that time, Rev. DeLong was on trial with the Wisconsin Conference of The United Methodist Church for performing a wedding for a same-sex couple, and for being in a lesbian relationship herself. She became a beacon of hope for other LGBTQ+ Methodists and their allies, who were optimistic that the denomination could outgrow its history of discrimination.
Since then, Love Prevails has remained outspoken against anti-queer, anti-trans legislation, offered guidance on inclusiveness in UMC communications, and continued to advocate for Queer people’s calling to ordained ministry and the blessing of queer relationships in ceremonies of Christian marriage.
But while the denomination’s followers have grown more progressive over the past few decades, its governing body has not. In fact, there’s currently so much division within the Methodist church over its lack of acceptance of LGBTQ+ families that a special conference has been scheduled for 2022, to discuss a possible separation of the UMC into two distinct denominations.
For now, the UMC’s official policy remains the same: “the church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching.”
In addition, Methodist pastors may not be “self-avowed, practicing homosexuals” (openly LGBTQ+), or conduct same-sex weddings. And any ceremonies celebrating same-sex weddings are not allowed on church property.
It’s against this conservative governing body, the Methodist polity in charge of the denomination’s position, that Love Prevails spoke out in June, pulling no punches in their rebuke:
“The UMC’s intention that “all persons are individuals of sacred worth” has been rendered hollow by its sinister anti-gay teachings and its inflammatory silence in the presence of physical violence and spiritual harm. The Church has been and remains complicit in the suicides, beatings, and murders of Queer persons.
For nearly half a century, many faithful saints attempted to change this denomination’s damning policies, but to no avail…
...While these leaders tinkered with plans that allowed just the right amount of discrimination to still be palatable to average United Methodists, the hard right successfully passed more crushingly oppressive legislation and the church’s collective heart hardened against us. It has become clear: the UMC is satisfied to sacrifice some of its most vulnerable members in the most hostile places – in the United States and around the world. Nothing more visibly illuminates the moral bankruptcy of this denomination.
Love Prevails has come to the painful conclusion that the UMC’s leadership and methods are so corrupt that we must replace “Disclose, Divest, and Disrupt” with one final word … “Depart.”” — excerpt from ‘An Open Letter ...’
Their departure sends a powerful message: Many Methodists would rather leave the denomination than be complicit in its continued discimination.
Love Prevails’ ability to prevail without (and in spite of) the UMC also sends a message of hope — that people can and will continue to create loving communities, on their own terms, no matter what obstacles they face.
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