At the recent General Conference of the United Methodist Church, the debate over the issues of labeling homosexuality as incompatible with Christian teaching, ordaining homosexual clergy and performing same-sex marriages reached a breaking point.

“Traditionalists” approved a plan which would institute mandatory penalties for clergy who perform same-sex marriages and made it eminently clear that LGBTQIA persons were not eligible for ordained ministry. This level of orthodoxy and greater church control has never been the United Methodist way. It is an attempt to intimidate into submission all who affirm the full sacred worth of LGBTQIA persons.

We do not believe that sexual orientation should be a criterion for ordination or categorized as “incompatible” with Christian faith and life. God calls people of a variety of gifts, graces and experiences to service and ministry to reach the variety of people who need to hear the Good News of Jesus’ saving grace. The United Methodist Church has historically been a church which allowed for differences in scriptural interpretation and theology.

We, the undersigned, will not be coerced into discriminating against LGBTQIA persons. Instead, we are even more resolved to work towards full inclusion. At baptism, we accepted the freedom and power God gives to resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves: especially in the church.

We resist the evil of bigotry, the injustice of exclusion and the oppression of our sisters and brothers who are sacred, special creations of God possessing the same divine spark that is within all of us. In those same baptismal vows we expressly affirm that we are in union with the same Jesus who “has opened [the church] to people of all ages, nations, and races” and some of us add to the end of that “sexual orientation.”

Through the courageous efforts of many people, especially our Bishop Karen Oliveto, the United Methodist Church has reached a defining moment in the movement towards full inclusion of LGBTQ+ people. We will not turn back now. “We shall overcome one day.”

The Rev. Elizabeth McVicker, pastor, First United Methodist Church and Centenary United Methodist Church, Salt Lake City; the Rev. Dr. C. Dennis Shaw, pastor, Hilltop United Methodist Church, Sandy; the Rev. Russell Butler, senior pastor, Christ United Methodist Church, Salt Lake City; the Rev. Rob Bruendl, pastor, Trinity United Methodist Church, West Valley City; the Rev. Gary M. Haddock, pastor, Community United Methodist Church, Ogden; the Rev. Kimal James, pastor, Ogden First United Methodist Church, Marriott-Slaterville; the Rev. Olga Hard, retired pastor, West Jordan; Pastor David Sauer, Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Brigham City; the Rev. Marv Vose, United Methodist Church district superintendent for Utah/Western Colorado