Siblings in Christ,
Meeting just days after the shooting in Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that took the lives of 49 people and injured 53 more, our 2016 Annual Conference session adopted a resolution encouraging all of the churches within our annual conference to practice radical welcome to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons in specific ways. The resolution invites the churches of our conference to participate as a welcoming presence at the Philadelphia OutFest 2016, which will be held on Sunday, October 9.
This is the Sunday closest to National Coming Out Day, a day that invites LGBT persons to step out of the fear that has diminished their lives and kept them closeted, a day that invites all of us to make safe such openness by the welcome we extend, welcome that is literally a matter of life and death, as the Pulse shooting demonstrates, along with the high incidences of attempted suicide and homelessness of teens who identify as LGBT. The principal reason reported by these youth for both their homelessness and suicide attempts is rejection by their families of origin and/or their churches.
Regardless of their stance on practices, all United Methodist churches affirm the sacred worth of LGBT persons and proclaim the love of Christ for all. Sunday, October 9, is a day to make clear that all truly means all by welcoming explicitly persons who too often have felt judged or excluded from churches of Jesus Christ.
”For freedom Christ has set us free”—free to be who we are and to know we are loved, regardless.
On October 9, help undermine a culture of fear, rejection, and violence, by making such love visible as a church of Jesus Christ. Among other things, you might:
- connect with an LGBT group in your area to see if there are any planned National Coming Out Day observances, and offer your support.
- speak a particular word of welcome to LGBT persons during your worship service;
- extend an invitation to your local LGBT community to worship with you;
- hold a special welcoming breakfast, brunch, or luncheon;
- offer a prayer in worship, such as the following:
You who so loves the world and all those within it,
we pray you, make your love real today.
Make your love real to all who live in fear, especially to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons, who have borne far too much violence and faced far too much judgment and rejection.
Make your love real through our churches which stand open, welcoming, ready to listen and learn and embrace, not to judge.
Make your love real in the courage to come out and the freedom to live without pretense.
Make your love real in safe spaces that welcome and celebrate such freedom and all who have newly discovered it.
Make your love real today through us, as we seek to be your church, in Jesus Christ. Amen.
In the incomparable and inestimable love of Christ,
The Eastern PA Conference churches and groups that openly welcome LGBT persons:
1. Arch Street United Methodist Church – Philadelphia
2. Calvary United Methodist Church – Philadelphia
3. Chestnut Hill United Church – Philadelphia
4. Drexel Hill United Methodist Church - Drexel Hill
5. First United Methodist Church of Germantown
6. First United Methodist Church of Media – Media
7. Grandview United Methodist Church – Lancaster
8. Historic St. George's United Methodist Church
9. Hope United Methodist Church – Havertown
10. Penns Park United Methodist Church - Penns Park
11. St. Luke's United Methodist Church - Bryn Mawr
12. Swarthmore United Methodist Church – Swarthmore
13. Union United Methodist Church of Havertown – Havertown
14. First United Methodist Church of Lancaster - Lancaster PA (Sacred Worth Team)