As members of The United Methodist Church, we stand in a long tradition that believes and confesses that the consistent witness of Scripture and God’s people is that God is the God of the oppressed.
God chooses an enslaved people in the ancient Israelites and breaks their chains. God consistently reprimands them when they fail to uphold the rights of the oppressed in their midst. Jesus healed people with leprosy and other ailments that left them rejected by their communities. When he was raised from the dead by the power of the Spirit, the first witnesses were women, among the most despised people of their time.
The calling of all followers of Jesus is to participate in the creation of a world that reflects the heart of God. A world that is just and loving and equitable. By living out of this identity, we will find that this reality becomes realized.
The Church has often failed to live out its identity as the Body of Christ. This is no secret. Right now, our denomination is in the midst of great upheaval and division over the question of who is included in the Gospel and how. We face days of uncertainty. But, we face them with great hope—the God of Abraham is also the God of Hagar. The God of David is also the God of the unnamed and unknown by the halls of history.
We face this future with a clear understanding of who God has called us to be—a people centered in the love and welcome of Jesus Christ. And we do not stand alone. We stand in the midst of a great cloud of witnesses—a people committed to extending this love and welcome to all persons. Let us be clear—all means all. To paraphrase a dear friend of mine, there is no asterisk next to God’s love, nor next to the command to “Love your neighbors as yourself.”
In a world full of loud voices of hate and division, we must remember that we also have a voice. We must speak out clearly for love and justice. Not only with words, but we must also speak with our lives.
We want to be clear that we are proud of who God has called us to be, and so your Church Council and I offer this statement that will be posted clearly for all who visit our website:
Here at Covenant United Methodist Church, we believe in the image of God in all persons. We strive to practice “Open Hearts, Open Minds, and Open Doors” with regards to all. We believe in the full-personhood and full inclusion of historically marginalized people groups, including but not limited to People of Color, the LGBTQIA+ community, women, the disabled, those living in poverty, and other groups. We acknowledge and lament that the Church has not always embodied the ways of Jesus and has often participated in and supported systems of oppression. We strive to shed ourselves of these idols and live in solidarity and support of the oppressed. When we say, “All are welcome!” we mean, “All means all.”