United Methodists

Those Who Are Invisible Because We Refuse To See Them

by Rev . Gil Caldwell

Methodist and United Methodist lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people: “They are invisible (past and present) understand, simply, because we refuse to see them” -Paraphrased from the words of a character in Ralph Ellison’s novel Invisible Man

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans people were and are composed of all races, ethnicities, biblical perspectives.

They are lay people, they are clergy, involved at every level of the denomination.

Many of us who are straight and cis acknowledge that our spiritual journeys in and beyond the Church were positively influenced by them.

Yet in 1972, four years after the new United Methodist Church had rid itself of the institutional segregation of the all-black Central Jurisdiction, the General Conference declared that same gender loving persons in committed relationships were because of their commitment to one another, “incompatible with Christian teaching.”

We moved from institutional racism to institutional heterosexism.

May the delegates to the 2016 General Conference resolve our unfortunate anti-gay language and legislation by rescinding it, and focus on the “incompatibility with Christian teaching” of poverty, inadequate healthcare, inequality of income, racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, militarism and the greed of capitalism.

It is hypocritical of us to continue to demean the many contributions that same gender loving Methodists in the past, and United Methodists today, have and are making to the mission and ministry of The United Methodist Church.

I am a witness to the fact that in my family, in the beginning days of my ministry in the Central Jurisdiction, and throughout my ministry, gay men and lesbians have been partners with me as I have sought to respond to and follow the “Teachings of Jesus.” (Howard Thurman)

May God help The United Methodist Church if we continue to appear to be a mirror of the Republican Party in our anti-gay language and legislation. I write this as one who at times in the spirit of Frederick Douglass, has been a Republican.

I urge those who receive this to share it with your networks and with delegates to the 2016 General Conference. 

“New occasions teach new duties; time makes ancient good uncouth.” –James Russell Lowell

Originally published by Reconciling Ministries Network; Photo by flickr user fliegender