Reports from Annual Conference
Below you will find reports from our Pastor Jeff Wells and
our Lay Delegates to Annual Conference.
Petitions submitted to the Annual Conference can
be found at the bottom of this page.
Pastor's General Report 2017
Historic Progress at 2017 NY
Annual Conference session
Pastor Jeff Wells, The Church of the Village
I felt excited to represent The Church of the Village along with Katie Reimer and Micah Gary-Fryer at the 2017 session of the New York Annual Conference. I was also a bit anxious participating in conference deliberations as a leader of Methodists in New Directions given what we were trying to achieve. This session was historic in many ways:
• Bishop Thomas Bickerton clearly and forcefully declared that the gifts and calling to ministry of LGBTQI persons are just as valid and as much from God as those of anyone else.
• For the first time, an invitation was extended by the bishop of the NYAC to an out gay clergy person to be our conference preacher. Rev. Jay Williams proclaimed that “the church does harm each time it favors law over grace” and that “One day the church will repent for the harm it has committed against the oppressed, the marginalized, and the disinherited. One day the church will celebrate 'Acts of Repentance and Reconciliation' for its discrimination against LGBT folk."
• For the first time, members of the United Methodist Queer Clergy Caucus (UMQCC) presented a petition (“One in Christ for the Transformation of the World”) and advocated on their own behalf.
• Following the collaborative efforts of MIND and the Queer Clergy Caucus, the annual conference, the annual conference voted overwhelmingly to hold a new delegate election for a special General Conference, opening a way for an expanded presence of LGBTQI persons in the discussion that will focus on their humanity, their callings, the lives and loves, and their place in the UMC. The election will happen next June.
We advocated and will work for a majority LGBTQI delegation for the special General Conference in February 2019 – so that those most affected by the unjust and discriminatory laws and language of the UMC might be in the room and in the debates in a powerful way.
In his sermon, Rev. Jay Williams both thanked and challenged Bishop Bickerton and the Annual Conference:
"You inspire me, Bishop. Your episcopal ministry and vision have blessed so many. And my prayer now is that God will unsettle you in such a way so as to lead the people called Methodists of New York and Connecticut with holy boldness and humble grace, indeed leading us in getting down to business…
When a black gay elder in full connection gets to preach at a United Methodist annual conference during LGBTQ Pride Month, well…I am learning each day the meaning of that song my Granny used to sing, “Amazing Grace...how sweet the sound.”
Leaders of MIND, UMQCC, Methodist Federation for Social Action and others gave powerful speeches motivating the amended rules and special election. Rev. Vicki Flippin motivated this proposal by asking the plenary session to “make a way for our NY Annual Conference to continue to provide leadership to our denomination” and “to model just and principled representation of those most harmed by the particular laws that will be at stake at the special session of General Conference.”
Rev. Lydia Lebrón, chair of the Board of Ordained Ministry, declared, “For this special General Conference, that is addressing the lives of LGBTQI people, they need to be represented. They themselves are diverse group and offer rich diversity of skills. If we are true to our call, we will not be afraid to be represented by people who have such significant gifts and graces.”
Dorlimar Lebrón Malavé, a lay member of the current delegation, asserted that the UMC has a long history of deciding to exclude or include the “other” [women, African Americans] without the “other” being powerful present. “Adopting this,” she said, “affords us the opportunity to take a principled stand in responding to this historic moment in the life of the church.”
In addition to the petition from the UM Queer Clergy Caucus, two MIND petitions (“Begin to Heal Injustice against Gay Clergy in the NYAC” and “A Way Forward Together”) were affirmed by more than 95 percent of those voting in legislative sections. The meeting space for the MIND Lunch on Friday was packed, with many standing at the back. Bishop Bickerton and Sally Bickerton came briefly to bring greetings to our gathering. The featured speaker, out gay UM pastor Rev. Will Green, celebrated our achievements but also warned that we have much work ahead of us. While expressing a very pessimistic view of the future of the UMC given its deeply entrenched institutional homophobia, he expressed great hope in our movement and our cause. MIND’s armband witness at the commissioning ceremony on Friday and the ordination ceremony on Saturday shifted this year from blue to rainbow armbands to signify the reality of LGBTQI inclusion being lived out at many levels of the NY Annual Conference.
It was thrilling to be a part of these historic and powerful events and all of the careful and thoughtful organizing work that lay behind them. This conference session truly bore the fruits of more than a decade of committed, hard work by Methodists in New Directions, our allies, and the hundreds of delegates who have continued to witness to their desire for a fully inclusive church by following our leadership and voting for each new step toward justice.
View photos from Annual Conference 2017 here.
For more Annual Conference news click here.
CoTV Lay Delegates Report 2017
submitted by Lay Delegate Katie Reimer
submitted by Lay Delegate Micah Gary-Fryer
The following petitions were submitted by MIND
and the UM Queer Clergy Caucus from Legislative Section IV:
(to view click a title below)
The powerful sermon preached by Rev. Jay Williams at the memorial service at the 2017 session of the NY Annual Conference. Rev. Williams has been serving as the senior pastor of Union United Methodist Church in Boston, a predominantly African American and inclusive congregation.
He was recently appointed to be the senior pastor at
Glide Memorial UMC in San Francisco.
View this featured sermon from Annual Conference 2017
Memorial Service preached by Rev. Jay Williams
by clicking here