Promoting Inclusivity as a Reconciling Congregation
Last month, Trinity United Methodist church in Alexandria proudly celebrated the fourth anniversary of our decision to become a Reconciling Congregation.
On May 17, 2015, professing members of our congregation overwhelmingly adopted a statement that makes clear our intent to welcome and affirm all people, including our LGBTQ+ neighbors. We published our Welcome Statement on the Reconciling Ministries Network website so that this message of inclusion, healing and community would reach as many people as possible. Each day since, we have tried to live out its spirit in our mission and worship.
Like so many in our denomination, we were terribly disappointed that the 2019 General Conference adopted the so-called “Traditional Plan,” which keeps the restrictive language on human sexuality in the Book of Discipline and actually strengthens the enforcement of church bans on same-sex weddings and the ordination of LGBTQ+ clergy.
This is not what we envisioned when we became a Reconciling Congregation in 2015. So we are taking action.
Within days of the General Conference’s decision, parishioners at Trinity joined with our fellow reconciling Methodists in Alexandria at Beverley Hills UMC and Fairlington UMC to write a strongly-worded letter to acting Bishop Peter Weaver. Almost 300 signatories from our three churches expressed deep sadness and anger with the result of GC2019, and we underscored our determination to continue our work on behalf of LGBTQ+ equality. Trinity also joined dozens of other churches from northern Virginia, Maryland and DC in publishing an ad in the Washington Post criticizing the Traditional Plan and calling for “a more diverse, more open” church that truly reflects the communities we serve.
Here at Trinity, we have reaffirmed our commitment made four years ago to include all God's children in the full life and ministry of our church. Last month we celebrated our reconciling anniversary with a neighborhood ice cream social, and we have made a prominent display of our Welcome Statement in our narthex and with a new banner outside the church. We marched along with many other Methodist churches in the DC Pride Parade on June 8.
We are looking forward to our next steps. Our pastor, Grace Han, was among the representatives of the Virginia Annual Conference who attended the recent UMCNext meeting in Kansas City. (You can read Grace’s blog post on her experience at the conference here.) We have also formed a General Conference task force to help lead our efforts to live out our Welcome Statement and guide Trinity through these next important months in the life of our denomination.
Part of those efforts is to support the actions of organizations like Virginia Methodists for a New Thing. It is vitally important that we work together in a grassroots movement dedicated to reaching our common goal – full inclusion of members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Jeff Lane is Vice-Chair of the Church Council at Trinity United Methodist Church in Alexandria, where he has been a member since 2000. He served as co-chair of Trinity’s Reconciling Committee in 2014-15. Jeff is an attorney and an adjunct professor of government at American University and George Washington University.