We’re proud to celebrate a milestone decision made from Wesley United Methodist Church, a Japanese-American church in San Jose, CA. On Monday, October 21, 2013, they unanimously voted to become a “reconciling congregation,” committing themselves to reconciliation in order to lead the healing of the pain and suffering of LGBTQ people within the church as well as outside of the church. While the United Methodist Church states that “homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching,” Wesley UMC has taken a stand by including “we are a Reconciling Congregation welcoming into the full life of the church all persons regardless of age, ethnicity, economic circumstance, gender identity and sexual orientation,” into their “Welcome Statement.” This is a huge and momentous decision that will continue to pave the way towards full acceptance and equality for all LGBTQ people!
WESLEY UMC WELCOMING STATEMENT:
Dear Members and friends of Wesley United Methodist Church,
On behalf of the Reconciling Ministry Committee of Wesley UMC (and believing to be in accordance with the wishes of our congregation, tonight we present a “Welcoming Statement” for adoption by our church at this year’s Charge Conference.
Adopting the “Welcoming Statement” confirms that we join the ranks of many United Methodist local churches, pastors and bishops across our nation and many other Christians of other denominations by declaring ourselves a “reconciling church” witnessing to the belief and hope that we are a church who accepts and welcomes all into the fellowship of the church inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity without judgment.
While our United Methodist Book of Discipline states that “homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” we stand in opposition to this long held belief that we believe has wrought much pain and suffering to LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgendered, transsexual, & questioning) sisters and brothers both within and outside the body of the church.
In our adoption of our “Welcoming Statement” we hope to contribute to God’s grace in a spirit very much reflective of what we believe Jesus Christ modeled in his ministry both in word and deed. We believe the approval of the proposed “Welcoming Statement” is a deep and abiding testimony of our faith, a witness to our call to social justice and a great desire to reach out to others with Christ-like love, compassion and concern.
Throughout this past year our Reconciling Ministry Committee planned several major programs and opportunities for education, dialogue, and discernment, giving our church membership numerous opportunities to share their thoughts and feelings on this matter.
After each program a preliminary straw vote was taken both indicating an approval rating of 98% or better in support of our church becoming a Reconciling Church. In addition our pastoral staff, Rev. Keith Inouye, David Ko and lay leader Darryl Noda have addressed the subject in whole or in part during messages and sermons at Sunday worships. We appreciated the leadership of former pastor Rev. Jeffrey Hall whose preaching and leadership was instrumental in helping us create the program and plan that brought us to this place in our process.
Bishop Rev. Dr. Grant Hagiya led our second major program of 2013 by helping us to review the most difficult scripture passages on this subject and shedding new light for us on its interpretation and original context and intent.
In years past the preaching of Rev. Doug Norris, Rev. Dick Corson, Rev. Nobuaki Hanaoka, Rev. Lloyd Wake, were also greatly appreciated as they either gifted us with sermons touching up this subject or participated in panel discussion supporting the reconciling movement.
Tonight we present our church’s “Welcoming Statement” and pray that you would support it with all that it means by voting to adopt this statement as a proclamation of where this ministry of Christ and house of God, named Wesley United Methodist Church, stands on this matter.
Our Reconciling Committee has determined that a minimum of 80% approval or higher would constitute adoption by this sanctioned church body and gathering. We do hope that your support of this movement continues as we press forward to be the church that we imagine Christ desires us to be.