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Epistle to the United Methodist Church
The open letter below was sent to the United Methodist Church's General Conference on 5/18/2016.
Beloved Members of the United Methodist Church,
We greet you on behalf of the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, the first denominational body of congregations of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) founded in North America. Our story as a diverse community of faith includes painful division as well as joyful reunion. As members with you in the same family of those who seek to participate in the justice, healing, and liberation announced through Jesus’ ministry, we send our love and support. As you conclude your time together in Portland, know that you are not alone. Beyond this accompaniment, what we have to offer is nothing but our testimony to God’s work among us.
In recent years our own congregations have wrestled alongside the wider Church with how we might together find right relationship among gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and straight members of our communities. The road has not been easy for any of us. What we have come to see clearly, and what we extend to you in love, is our witness that God affirms the full humanity, worth, and service of each and every person, even when we cannot see how it is that we are to proceed together, even in the knowledge that painful divisions remain.
Our experience and prayerful discernment confirm that all are equal before God, just as God made us. We are called to seek a way forward for our faith communities so that people of all genders, sexual orientations, races, classes, ethnicities and abilities have the opportunity to be both present and celebrated in their authenticity. The small steps we have taken on this journey have borne the fruits of a growing sense of God’s wholeness in our common life and ministry. Without the gifts of each precious one, we are less than whole.
We write to lift up in tender prayer those who have had accusation laid upon them and those who have laid such accusation. We write as a prayer in the presence of the Spirit of God that can yet lead us into all truth. We write in support of those wounded and those with courage to continue. We write in hope that you will watch your hearts and watch over one another as the children of God that you are.
We give thanks that God gathers many to form one body; each one of us belongs to all the others. Know that you have Friends in New England holding you in prayer, our hearts joined with you in the broken-hearted but still unbroken unity of the Holy Spirit, as you labor together in discernment today and in the time to come.
In the Light,
Frederick Weiss, Presiding Clerk
Noah Baker Merrill, Secretary
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers)