A reflection on this week’s events in the global church from ELM’s Board of Directors
The apostle Paul reminds us that we who claim to follow Jesus are one body in Christ and that “if one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.” (1 Cor 12:26).
As members of the one body and in the spirit of co-suffering love, ELM mourns and laments, with all our United Methodist kin, the St. Louis 2019 General Conference’s vote to reaffirm and strengthen the ecclesial prohibitions on ordaining same-gender loving clergy and officiating same-gender weddings, as prescribed by the “Traditional Plan.”
As we know from experiences within our own Lutheran denominations, such decisions globally impact and harm LGBTQIA+ people who are and will be told that God does not love them or that they do not bear the image of God. They wound the whole body of Christ, because LGBTQIA+ individuals are members of this body and, thereby undermine the church’s witness to God’s ever-expanding, radical love.
ELM holds with tenderness and compassion, all individuals that have experienced similar instances of institutional sin across denominations that caused safety and trust to be threatened, and that lead to further marginalization and feelings of isolation for specific groups of people. The effects of trauma and re-traumatization stretch wide and run deep, and we encourage and support those impacted in seeking support during these painful times.
Furthermore, with the entire body of Christ, we acknowledge and lament our own active and passive participation in the sins embodied in this decision. We mourn the sins of queerphobia and transphobia. We rebuke the forces of fear, ignorance, and hate that keep the church from celebrating the gifts and ministries of LGBTQIA+ Christians.
As members of the body of Christ, we also confess and repent the sins of racism and white supremacy, particularly as enacted through colonization, which continue to enforce the gender binary and heteronormativity as divinely and scripturally ordained, thereby erasing global indigenous expressions of same-gender love and expansive gender diversity. These sins also lead to the creation of a false binary between LGBTQIA+ people and people of color.
As the scriptures teach us to welcome one another, just as Christ welcomes us for the glory of God, so we believe that the Gospel commands us to extravagantly welcome all people, particularly those who are marginalized and oppressed.
Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries believes the public witness of sexual and gender minority ministers transforms the church and enriches the world. We know the value and gifts that queer people bring to the church and to ministry throughout the world.
Grounded in this conviction, we commit to living in solidarity through mutual prayer and support with our UMC kin as they discern their way forward, just as we too continue to discern and struggle within our own denominational structures.
We rest in the knowledge that the Spirit continues to be present among us, calling and guiding as we journey towards God’s promise to gather all people as part of God’s one family:
Maintain justice, and do what is right, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed… Do not let the foreigner joined to God say, “God will surely separate me from God’s people”; and do not let the eunuch say, “I am just a dry tree.” For thus says God: To the eunuchs… I will bring them to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. Thus says the sovereign God, who gathers the outcasts…” (Isaiah 56: 1, 3, 7-8).
May we hold each other graciously and tenderly in our times of sorrow. And, may we not forget to step out in bold faith, trusting the Spirit to guide us on the path of reparation and justice.
ELM Board of Directors
Emily Ann Garcia, Co-Chair Matthew James, Co-Chair
Margaret Moreland, Secretary Charlie Horn, Treasurer
Jessica Davis, Emily E. Ewing, Matta Ghaly, Jeff R. Johnson, Barbara Lundblad, Margarette Ouji, Angela Shannon