Reason #1 Where are the LGBTQ voices?
Any proposal that doesn't bring the people most impacted by the decisions made into the planning, discussions and decision making process cannot help but develop proposals that benefits the status quo at the expense of the marginalized. Separate, but equal never has and never will work toward inclusion and wholeness! The Reverend Amy DeLong from Love Prevails has helped to lead the way on challenging the Connectional Table to address the United Methodist Church's exclusion and harm of LGBTQ United Methodists. Watch the video where Amy points out the Connectional Table's unjust process and proposal.
Reason #2 Do no harm through avoidance?
When exclusionary harm isn’t publically acknowledged and conversations are designed to minimize conflict, rather than correct egregious wrongs, the end product will be more about institutional stability than moving in a new, healthier direction for the future.
In fact, such processes leave room for additional harm to be done.
The Connectional Table’s "third way" proposal
isn't really about changing things for the better; it's about avoiding public scrutiny and ridicule. It’s not about doing the hard and holy work of repentance, healing and the restoration of relationships; but is more about protecting the institution and it’s power players from ever having to take any responsibility for 40 years of doing harm in God’s name.
Dorothee Benz, a lifelong United Methodist, a delegate to 2016 General Conference, and the national representative of Methodists in New Direction (MIND) , points out the failures of this type of avoidance in a guest blog post on Hacking Christianity, entitled, “There is no way out but through.” This article is actually about the General Commission on General Conference's 2016 proposal to deal with petitions on human sexuality differently from other petitions. However, what is indistinguishable, is the fear of institutional instability and potential schism driving their motivation at the expense of those who have been harmed by years of discriminatory practices and policies. Benz's article truly applies to both proposals!
Reason #3 The Appeal of Who Really Benefits!
When proposals dealing with serious matters are designed to side-step real concerns, or even dealing with them at all, then people need to start asking themselves, what issues are we really trying to address and who benefits from such a proposal?
Unfortunately, the CT “third way forward” proposal leads to further isolation of LGBTQ supportive United Methodist congregations that are located in Annual Conferences where they are in the minority. It also maintains a standard of disenfranchisement under the marque of “traditional beliefs.” If only all LGBTQ United Methodists and progressive Christians could be born in Annual Conferences were we practice non-harmful, non-prejudicial ministries in spite of our traditional beliefs as United Methodists! Now that’s a standard that should make all United Methodists want to get out of bed for in the morning!
The Rev. Vicki Flippin is the co-president of the board of directors of the Methodist Federation for Social Action. She is the Pastor of Social Justice, Exploring Faith, and Inter-generational Ministries at The Church of the Village, a progressive, multi-racial, and Reconciling United Methodist Church in Manhattan. A graduate of Yale Divinity School and the University of Chicago, Flippin has been elected to the New York Annual Conference Jurisdictional/General Conference delegation for 2016. She also has something very valuable to say about what the CT “third way forward” proposal really is: The Connectional Table’s Bribe to Straight Progressive Clergy. Don’t sell out the dignity of all for your convenience. That only contributes to prolonged and further injustice.