20 July 2016
Dear Friends and Colleagues in Metropolitan Community Churches:
We write to you today with some of the same range of feelings many of you hold in the aftermath of General Conference XXVI, with gratitude for the opportunity to serve you and our faith community, and with hope for the future.
We know that one letter will not address all of our concerns as a body, and so we offer this moment and ourselves to beginning and sustaining the kind of dialogue and prayerful consideration that will lead us to that “higher ground” we often sing about and help us move forward together.
The question posed to many of us following Conference was: What happened? There is no simple answer, but we know for sure there was long simmering confusion, hurt, distrust, and anger at play as we sought to conduct business together. And we know ourselves, as human beings, and therefore confess the sins of racism, misogyny, and classism always at work among us as a diverse body of faith. All of us believe that the Holy Spirit was present, and though many of these things may have been at work, there was also a distinct call to engage intentional transitional efforts and to find new ways to trust each other.
We know that MCC’s presence and meaning is different in different parts of the world, and that St. Paul was right: we need each other for the body to be whole.
We need to work on many things, and this body of Elders
is committed to engaging, and as you call on us,
to facilitating that work.
MCC needs to not only look at and pray about the racial divisions and dynamics that are alive among us, but to engage the kinds of self-examination, open and public discussion, and in some cases, policy change that will begin to eliminate those divisions and dynamics and heal our collective presence.
We need to practice the kind of transparency we profess, and not shy away, as leaders and as the wider Body of Christ, from responding as openly as we are capable of to hard questions. Our structure as a body is semi-congregational, meaning while we call and elect people to lead us, ultimate authority rests in the local congregation. The congregation is constrained when its leaders try to protect them from harsh realities.
We need to be honest.
The truth is sometimes our beliefs don’t match our actions. Sometimes we don’t use social media in a way that offers safe space to all.
The truth is many different people for many different reasons are feeling cut off or excluded or silenced or like their gifts aren’t welcome.
The truth is MCC saved many, if not all of our lives, and it is our love for our Founder’s vision and that three-prong Gospel of salvation for all, community for all, and social justice; our love for our current Moderator; and our hope for the future, that compels us to at least try to keep talking with each other and diving into the pain in order to heal or be healed by so doing.
God did not send Jesus to condemn the world, but to save it, a visionary man of faith wrote a long time ago. We believe the same is true of our lives at this moment: We are not called to condemn or judge or cut ourselves or anyone else off but to stand together in the current tensions we face and work together for the sake of all our lives and all our futures.
As we write this letter, we covenant to be willing
to have the hard conversations around race, class,
resources, distrust, and mysogynism.
We covenant to walk with, listen to, and work through the harm done to people of differing opinions and perspectives, and to take the long view of a future made possible when we stand together.
We have all heard the talk about leaving MCC; there is no place for me. We write today to ask a simple question: How will it be better anywhere for any of us, if we don’t face and address our wounds, our deeply held and differing convictions, our dashed dreams and our passionate hopes for the future here and now?
Mordecai’s wise counsel to Esther may indeed be the call of God to all of us in this moment to do whatever we can, take our best shot at reshaping and revitalizing Metropolitan Community Churches for the sake of ourselves, yes, and perhaps more urgently, the sake of all those around the globe who are waiting for the Promise of God to emerge in their lives.
We need to find a way to restore our trust in each other
so that we can move forward together.
We sincerely hope you will engage with us in working through our past and current realities and in discerning the future of MCC. Call us, write to us, invite us to join with you in your local communities. God has called us for such a time as this. That is our passionate conviction.
With love and devotion,
Metropolitan Community Churches Council of Elders
Rev. Elder Dr. Nancy Wilson, Moderator
Rev. Elder Dwayne Johnson, Convener
Rev. Elder Ines-Paul Baumann
Rev. Elder Pat Bumgardner
Rev. Elder Margarita Sánchez De León
Rev. Elder Tony Freeman
Rev. Elder Darlene Garner
Rev. Elder Héctor Gutiérrez
Elder Nancy G. Maxwell
Rev. Elder Dr. Candace R. Shultis
Rev. Elder Mona West, PhD