The United Methodist Church’s Council of Bishops recently issued a pastoral letter expressing remorse at any rhetoric or deeds that have harmed the LGBT community.
In February, the UMC will hold a special session of General Conference to determine whether it will maintain its current official position against homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
Addressed to “our Global LGBTQ Kin in Christ” the pastoral letter was released on Dec. 28 and involved the mainline denomination’s leadership stating remorse for any hurtful remarks or actions directed at LGBT individuals in the church, especially in regards to the upcoming special session.
“Demeaning and dehumanizing comments and attacks on LGBTQ persons in conversations related to the upcoming February Conference are a great tragedy and do violence to hearts, minds, and spirits,” read the letter.
“When you suffer, the whole body of Christ suffers. Together, we need to work to resist hate, violence, and oppression of persons. In these attitudes and actions, great harm is done throughout the community, to the offended and the offender.”
They continued, “We confess, as Bishops of The United Methodist Church and as we attempt to honor our convictions, that our actions and words have not always been life-giving or honoring of the LGBTQ community. Amid our sorrow, we seek to learn and grow in grace.”
The bishops went on to encourage civil dialogue among all sides in the UMC’s debate over its stance on LGBT issues, praying that “the Holy Spirit will draw us together.”
“… we commit ourselves to helping people who disagree with each other to have conversations that include, honor, and respect people with different convictions,” added the bishops.
“We are a diverse group of leaders—conservative, centrist, progressive—however, we are unified in our commitment to work together in ways that will give you and all God’s children strength, comfort and hope for better and more merciful tomorrows.”
The letter has received mixed reactions from LGBT individuals within the denomination, including the Rev. Pamela R. Lightsey.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski