Well, General Conference finished our Opening Worship. In many ways it was beautiful, we sang in many different languages, had a nice reflection from Bishop Brown… but yet underlining all of it was the withdrawal of Rev. Vicki Flippin from doing opening remarks today. You see, she was asked to make remarks based on her ministerial context, yet restricted in a way where she could not be authentic, or give the remarks with integrity.
My question becomes: if we cannot welcome all, can we truly worship together? My answer leans towards no as I already heard my LGBTQ sisters and brothers’ pain over this seemingly small act. It’s not small, it’s major.
The following is the official MFSA Press Release:
This morning, Methodist Federation for Social Action’s (MFSA) board of director’s Co-President, Rev. Vicki Flippin, received notice from the Worship Director of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church to remove mention of sexual orientation and gender identity from her remarks in this afternoon’s opening worship for the every-four-year global gathering of the denomination in Portland, Oregon.
Those asked to bring opening remarks were asked to share greetings from their ministry contexts. Rev. Flippin serves as Associate Pastor at Church of the Village, a progressive, multi-cultural, and Reconciling congregation in the West Village section in the borough of Manhattan in New York City. “My context is one of ministry to and with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI) people in our city,” states Flippin.
When asked to remove her references to sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, Flippin responded that she could not “in good conscience participate in a service that will not even pretend to welcome and include God’s LGBTQI children.”
MFSA executive director, Chett Pritchett, states, “Worship should be the space for all people to be welcomed and recognized as being made in God’s image. Sadly, the institutional Church has failed queer people like myself yet again, on one hand calling us ‘of sacred worth,’ but clearly not worthy enough to be directly mentioned in what should be our denomination’s proudest moment.”
This afternoon’s opening worship begins 10 days of legislation, worship, and witness for the 12 million member global denomination. One of the most pressing conversations will center on the Church’s welcome to LGBTQI people and those in ministry with them.
Since 1907, the Methodist Federation for Social Action has worked to mobilize, lead, and sustain a progressive movement, energizing people to be agents of God’s justice, peace, and reconciliation. As an independent, faith-based organization, MFSA leads both church and society on issues of peace, poverty, people’s rights, progressive issues, and justice in The United Methodist Church.