“Love one another, just as I have loved you.”
— John 13:34
Statement of LGBTQ+ Support from Wesley Memorial UMC: Time to Reclaim the Church for Love
We are aware that after the results of Tuesday night's elections in Virginia, many LGBTQ+ folks in our congregation and community are feeling hurt and scared.
It is time for us to be crystal clear about our Christian beliefs:
- Anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and policy is completely antithetical to Jesus Christ's life and ministry.
- Demonizing and terrorizing LGBTQ+ people, and especially, now, trans people, as a political tactic is Unholy in the deepest conceivable way.
- The resurrection of Jesus Christ assures us that hate will not prevail, not in Virginia or anywhere that people of goodwill are willing to reclaim the Church for love.
The Apostle Paul correctly saw the Church as an alternative community built on unconditional love (Romans 13:8-10), existing in sharp contrast to the Roman Empire's brutal society of violence and domination. We have arrived at a time and place in history where we must fully enact that vision, by growing Christian communities where LGBTQ+ folks, immigrants, those discriminated against due to race, status, gender identity as well as gender expression*, or sexuality, and those who enjoy privileges, are joined together in truly unconditional love and care..
This is a call for all LGBTQ+ affirming Christians and churches in the Charlottesville area to make this vision a reality, because, clearly, much spiritual work remains to be done.
We need to get together and figure out how we are going to support and protect our LGBTQ+ neighbors now, and make that hard work Christ-filled and joyful. We need to make sure UVA students know there are alternatives to non-affirming Christian student groups and churches in town, because many do not. We need to make sure that we are truly welcoming, affirming and accessible to all. We need to offer LGBTQ+ affirming Bible Studies as part of our curriculums, because one of the most powerful tools against anti-LGBTQ+ hate is the Scriptures themselves. We need to offer our communities deep spiritual replenishment, because exhaustion and burnout are another big reason we are in this situation.
We need to create a loving Christian movement so irresistible it starts here and spreads ever-outward, becoming the first thing people think of when they think "Christian."
Through the power of the resurrected Christ, we can, we must and we will.
*Gender identity and expression can vary and can be innately male or female as well as non-binary that can be neither or both. Everyone has a gender identity.
If you are interested in collaborating and strategizing to make this vision a reality, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. While this statement is mostly written to fellow Christians (because it is largely Christian faith that is being used to justify anti-LGBTQ+ hate in politics), we invite people of all faiths or no faith for whom this resonates to reach out as well.
Wesley Memorial is a reconciling congregation. We are a member of the Reconciling Ministries Network whose mission is to equip and mobilize United Methodists to resist evil, injustice, and oppression as we seek justice for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
Our Commitment to You
On March 19, 2019, the Church Council of WMUMC created a new policy that reads as follows:
The Pastor of Wesley Memorial will not pronounce marriages for any couple in our community until the General Conference of the United Methodist Church changes the Book of Discipline to allow LGBT couples to be married in the UMC. All marriages performed for the Wesley Memorial UMC community will be pronounced by lay members of the congregation.
Despite the church’s current Discipline, lay members of Wesley Memorial UMC will perform LGBT weddings. For questions, or to express interest in being married, contact Pastor Matt Seaton.
As of March 19, 2019, Wesley Memorial also adopted this policy:
In order to aid LGBT candidates for ministry that may face discrimination in the church where their membership resides, Wesley MUMC will accept transfer of membership in order to support qualified and authentically-called candidates for ministry in the Virginia Conference, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
At Wesley, we believe that God welcomes LGBTQ+ people, God celebrates LGBTQ+ love, and God calls LGBTQ+ Christians into leadership in the church and into ordained ministry! Through baptism God calls each member of the body of Christ into ministry, whether it be ordained or not, and we reject those that would try to deny the call of God based on a person’s sexuality or gender identity. The kingdom of God in all of its beautiful diversity is only complete when LGBTQ+ people and their loved ones are fully-included in the life of the church.
For the last few years, Wesley has featured classes on Queer Theology, which as a discipline is not limited to discussions about the inclusion of LGBTQ+ people. Queer theology calls on Christians to develop a praxis that is built on Solidarity, Abundance, and Liberation. QT posits that homophobia is wrapped up with systematic injustice of all kinds, and that our freedom depends on each other.
For more information, watch this interview with Dr. Linn Tonstad on Queer Theology.
Our church is a Safe Space for the LGBTQ+ community. We are sensitive to and supportive of lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer, and questioning people. Many of our staff are members of the LGBTQ community and all of our staff and church leaders have completed Safe Space Training through SafeCville and the LGBTQ Center at UVA.
As a reconciling congregation, we know how to practice effective allyship.
We stand with those around us to protect and fight for the dignity of every person, who is created in the image of God.
Charlottesville Pride Community Network exists to create a vibrant, visible, and inclusive LGBTQ community presence in Charlottesville, Albemarle, and the surrounding region promoting equality through events, education, outreach, and advocacy.
Wesley Memorial is proud to participate in the Charlottesville Pride Festival each year.