General Conference Statement
An Open Letter from the People of New City Church
Regarding the 2019 General Conference Session of The United Methodist Church
The people of New City Church lament the decision that our siblings in Christ made at the General Conference in St. Louis, MO on February 23-26, 2019. This session of the General Conference chose to act against the most foundational United Methodist commitments to “Do No Harm, Do Good, and Stay in Love with God” by supporting an irredeemably oppressive set of policies named The Traditional Plan.
We at New City Church—one of Minnesota’s most successful United Methodist church plants in the last ten years—understand first-hand the value of welcoming people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, and other sexual orientations and gender identities (abbreviated here as LGBTQ+). A significant percentage of us identify as part of this community, and even more of us have previously been part of local churches that have harmfully excluded LGBTQ+ people.
Collectively, we have decided that we cannot simultaneously commit to “Do No Harm” and exclude LGBTQ+ people from any part of the life of the church. Some of us have received death threats because of our sexual orientation; others have been ostracized because of our gender identity. Members of our community have experienced homelessness because of our sexual orientation. We plainly see that these acts of hatred ultimately find their roots in ideologies that treat LGBTQ+ people pejoratively because of their identities.
Let us be unambiguous: excluding people from pastoral leadership, marriage, and other important parts of the life of the church inevitably results in violence against LGBTQ+ people. We know. We have lived it.
In fact, in our experience, “Doing Good” comes from centering (not marginalizing) LGBTQ+ voices. We have heard how God speaks prophetically through the lives of people who live under oppression. LGBTQ+ people have had to ask deep questions of identity from an early age—often in uninhabitable environments—and the result of doing so is a people of inward insight and deep wisdom. As a church committed to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, we believe that these friends whom the world rejected are, indeed, blessed.
New City Church also doubles our commitment to undo the great harm of systemic racism, colonization, ableism, and other forms of oppression. Some of us cannot choose whether we get to deal with racism or homophobia separately; we experience them simultaneously. Our community as a church must, likewise, address them simultaneously, trusting that the Gospel provides a way toward the renewal of all of Creation, not just certain parts of Creation at a time.
As an act of faithfulness to God, we also want to note that relationship across difference is valuable. We will not reflect the popularized “social justice purity” that readily burns bridges to people simply because they are not in ideological lock-step with us. We want to be in relationship with people who disagree with us because we are all part of the body of Christ. With that said, our community’s foremost commitment is to center the experiences of marginalized people because, truly, we believe Jesus is asking us to do so.
Lastly, in our commitment to “Stay in Love with God,” we will continue to read Scripture, pray, receive communion, and, of course, prophetically proclaim the coming renewal of God’s world. As a community, we will take the next several months to discern how God is calling us to most faithfully respond. Regardless of what we choose, however, we know this: we cannot and will not stay silent, as love never does stay silent in the face of oppression. We invite all people reading this letter to join us in constructing a more faithful church for the creation of a more just world.
The People of New City Church
*This statement reflects input from a community discussion at New City Church. It was written by Rev. Tyler Sit, New City’s Church Planter/Pastor. This letter was originally published March 14, 2019.
Download this statement here