Despite their denomination's policy against gays and lesbians, people of faith from all over California and neighboring states will be celebrating a "Season of Love" this coming May—a call for acts of love and support for full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people in The United Methodist Church.
"It all begins with two women who love each other deeply and believe they are called to serve the world together," said Rev. John Oda, one of the organizers for the Season of Love. Nikki and Kira, two United Methodist women will be married on May 17 at Wesley United Methodist Church in San Jose by their United Methodist pastor—even though their church forbids it.
Hundreds of supporters plan to gather outside the church to hold a "Circle of Love" for the brides, for The United Methodist Church and for all UMC pastors who wish to preside over same sex weddings in their United Methodist Church. "We will stand, sing, and pray as a cloud of witnesses in solidarity with congregations desiring to open their church to all loving couples, and in support of all United Methodist pastors who simply want to fulfill their pastoral duties to all of their parishioners,” said Rev. Judy Shook, the organizer of the Circle of Love.
Nikki, a third generation Filipina-Chinese American woman, and Kira, a Filipina-Palestinian American met and grew in their relationship through their work for justice in the church. "It is important for us to be married by our own pastor who has supported and mentored us in The United Methodist Church," said Nikki. "It is also important that we be married in front of our families, who have been an unbelievable support system throughout our lives. We have a kasama love, which in Tagalog means 'my partner in struggle.' If we weren’t involved in justice work, we would still love each other, but this has deepened our faith and love. And it is important to us that this is shared with our community."
The United Methodist Church's 40-year old policy of exclusion and discrimination toward gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer persons is increasingly unpopular with a growing number of congregations and individuals across the country that have joined Reconciling Ministries Network working for full inclusion—including same-sex marriage and ordination.
Many United Methodist pastors are joining the movement as well. "When I became a pastor I made a promise to offer the ministry of the church to all persons," said Frank Schaefer who plans to attend the May 17 wedding, and who was defrocked last year following a church trial for officiating at his son's wedding. "Some in The UMC want to restrict clergy from fulfilling their vows and the Bible’s command for us to love our neighbor. More and more pastors are deciding they can’t discriminate any longer, no matter the consequences of their faithfulness.”
Beginning with Nikki and Kira's wedding on May 17, United Methodist supporters are asked to post their weddings and other actions supporting full LGBTQ inclusion on the Season of Love website, and stand on the side of love until The United Methodist church stops discriminating against its members and pastors. To learn how to support Kira, Nikki, and their United Methodist pastor on their wedding day, May 17th, visit the Season of Love website.