A Letter From Integrity VP National Affairs Jon M. Richardson
I'd like to take a moment to invite you into a time of prayer for our brothers and sisters in the United Methodist Church who are meeting right now (through the end of the week) in their quadrennial (once every four years) General Conference in Tampa, Florida. I grew up in the United Methodist Church, and my father is a retired clergyman in that tradition. I personally know many United Methodists who share in the striving for LGBT rights in the United Methodist Church. I know many talented and pious men and women of God who have been denied access to the ordination process in the United Methodist Church simply because of their integrity in living honestly as the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people that God created them to be. I know several ordained United Methodist leaders who, in sacrifice to their call, have been forced into lives of secrecy and shame.
It breaks my heart to see our brothers and sisters striving in the same uphill battle in which we, in the Episcopal Church, have been so successful for these past 35 years.
But I ask you to pray for the United Methodist Church - not just because they still have so far to go, or because of my personal ties, but because their lives as a denomination are so closely linked with ours. As you probably know, the Methodist tradition grew out of the Anglican tradition. We are closely linked in our lineage as people of faith. As such, we have long had close ties. At our last General Convention, we entered into an agreement of "inter-Eucharistic sharing" - an outward and visible sign of our inward and spiritual connection. Under this agreement, United Methodist and Episcopal clergy are invited to concelebrate the Holy Eucharist together, under the direction of our bishops. Our ties are growing closer and more tangible, so their struggles are becoming more closely tied with our own.
The video below is of a flash mob that was organized by one of the progressive lobbying organizations of the United Methodist Church - The Love Your Neighbor Coalition (http://gc12.org/tag/love-your-neighbor/). Despite the challenges and disappointments that they have continued to face at this General Conference, their continued joy and hope remains admirable. May God shield them in their joy.
I particularly love the song that they've chosen - "You Can't Stop the Beat" from Hairspray. It's true. As we are so often reminded: the arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.
The Rev. Jon M. Richardson
38 Duncan Avenue
Jersey City, NJ 07304