We have wrapped up Annual Conference 2017 season and here are some recaps/reflections from what transpired as told by Regional Organizer, Laura Young, Deaconess:

When people ask me why I do this work, a question I hear often, the short answer is very simple; the church I love is hurting people I love.

United Methodists are doing harm. United Methodists are being harmed. United Methodists are hurting. I hear their stories every day. I’m sure you do as well. Some are in churches where folks might know or wonder if they are LGBTQ but it’s not talked about. Many are closeted while at church. And, many have stopped going to church altogether, but they’re still calling me – looking for hope, wondering if the Commission on a Way Forward or the called General Conference might provide a path for them to return to church to worship and serve as their whole self.

Friends, I’m fully supportive of the Commission and I think there is reason to hope that this unprecedented approach can help get us unstuck and on a new path toward justice, healing, and health. I’m in their corner, but the work of the Commission is only one small piece of the puzzle. 

Let’s be honest. Even if the Commission submits the perfect proposal to the Council of Bishops, and even if the bishops love it, send it to the called GC, and the 2019 delegates adopt it – we’re not going to instantly become a safe and welcoming denomination overnight. Our local churches aren’t going to suddenly have a change of heart and say, “well, it’s the policy now so let’s get on board.” It doesn’t work that way. If it did, we wouldn’t still need the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (COSROW) or the General Commission on Race and Religion (GCORR).

The Discipline policy must change and we each have a role to play. But real changes in our local churches? That’s a different thing. That takes intentional conversation, courage, vulnerability, relationship building, study, prayer – did I mention courage? – from those of us in those very churches. That’s how we change things on the ground.

The youth we confirmed this season who are questioning their sexual orientation? The babies we’ll baptize next month who will grow up to realize they’re lesbian, bi-sexual, gender-expansive, or trans? These United Methodists aren’t counting on the Commission, they’re counting on us. You and me.

We’re their Commission. We’re their way forward.

Stepping out in faith, telling our stories, sharing our truths, establishing new Reconciling churches, Sunday school classes, and campus ministries is how we get there. This is critical ministry right here and now that also equips our churches to help lead the denomination the day after the discriminatory language is officially removed.

We need you more than ever before, and you keep showing up! In the last 12 months, we’ve added over 100 new Reconciling Churches and Communities, twenty-one of those in the SCJ. You get it, and I’m so grateful. Don’t stop now! Let’s carry this momentum all the way to GC 2020. I’m asking you to renew or step up your commitment to RMN, and our local work here in the SCJ, in your conference, and in your local church. Just like your local church, RMN needs your prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness.

Help us grow the movement in the SCJ. There are many creative ways to do that. Yes, even in the tough places. Let’s talk. Call, email, or text so we can schedule a time to visit. I can help you get connected to work already underway in your area, or we can craft the best plan for new efforts in your unique setting.

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