A Covenant of Conscience
Iowa United Methodists
In his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail, ” Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Nonviolent civil rights movements fight for justice and equality in civil and religious life with compassion, courage, and deep commitment to faithfulness. The recognition of the full humanity, sacred worth, and equal rights of LGBTQ persons is crucial to the civil rights struggles of our time. LGBTQ and straight United Methodist laity and clergy are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.
The denial of rights and privileges to LGBTQ persons through provisions in the Book of Discipline shackles pastoral care and ministry, and in their harshly punitive application these provisions of the Discipline are not only a grave injustice; they violate the sacred command to love our neighbors as ourselves. We cannot remain complicit in the Church’s injustice and discrimination any longer and, out of our Christian faith and Wesleyan love, we feel bound to respond and together to make the following declarations:
Pastoral care and the sacraments and rituals of the church are means of grace by which the lives of all Christians are blessed by God. Therefore we, as congregations and as individual laity and clergy, declare our commitment to offer such means of grace to all persons on an equal basis. We refuse to discriminate against any of God’s children and pledge to make marriage equality a lived reality within the Iowa Annual Conference.
We seek to embody the beloved community of hope by openly and joyfully affirming the lives and loves of all United Methodists, regardless of sexual orientation or gender expression.
We, United Methodist clergy, in accordance with our ordination vows to “seek peace, justice, and freedom for all people,” commit to marrying without bias or discrimination all people who seek the blessing of the church and are prepared to assume the privileges and responsibilities of a loving, committed, covenant relationship.
We, United Methodist laity, in accordance with our membership vows to “resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves,” commit to supporting our clergy in faithfully ministering to all, including through any consequences of their living fully into that duty.
We, United Methodist congregations, refuse to discriminate in the sacraments and rituals provided to our members and pledge the full and equal use of our facilities as we welcome and celebrate equally all couples and the families they may choose to create.
Further, each of us, clergy, laity, and congregations, pledge to one another our spiritual and material support in fulfilling this covenant of conscience.
Allan B. Jones