Love of God and Neighbor – Statement

Signers Sign the Statement Now!

For Love of God and Neighbor

A Common Witness to General Conference 2012

WE ARE people committed to following Jesus Christ to embody God’s love and justice through The United Methodist Church. Ever open to the surprising movement of the Holy Spirit in our midst as we strive to love our neighbors, we embrace our unity in Christ in the midst of diverse opinions to provide a Common Witness:

WE BELIEVE in a church that passionately works for racial justice. We rejoice in the historical diversity of the Wesleyan tradition and the stream of resistance to racism that has existed from the beginning.  We confess that we also have a history of failing to eliminate prejudice, exploitation, oppression, fear and despair based on race and ethnicity. From the Ethiopian eunuch to the people of all nations at Pentecost, the church has a mandate to love our neighbors who comprise God’s diverse humanity.

WE BELIEVE in a church that embodies full inclusiveness. Jesus reached across lines of gender, class and religion. In the book of Acts, Peter was told not to call unclean what God has declared clean.  The Gospel welcomes all people regardless of human distinctions through God’s grace. The invitation to Christ’s banquet table is for neighbors of every age, race, culture, nationality, theological perspective, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, mental and physical ability, economic condition, and marital status.

WE BELIEVE in a church that celebrates both women and men as equally created in God’s image and blessed with gifts and graces for leadership and ministry. The diversity of gender expression by both women and men is part of God’s creation.  Cultural gender role expectations must not limit freedom in Christ.  In particular, we recognize the importance of the historic mission work of the Women’s Division of the General Board of Global Ministries and members of United Methodist Women as well as the women in so many countries who claim their rightful place in God’s mission and have blazed the trail of justice, service and righteousness for the entire church.

WE BELIEVE in a church that yearns to be global and connectional and addresses the residual structures of colonialism. Recognizing the membership growth within the Central Conferences, the tendency to focus upon U. S. issues at General Conference, and cultural issues with the Book of Discipline, we affirm that which moves us in the direction of 1) deeper connections throughout the global church, 2) greater local authority, and, 3) more equitable sharing of power, representation, and responsibility around the world.  Regional (rather than global) decision making will have a profound effect on our ability to be in fruitful ministry in each local context.

WE BELIEVE in a church that ensures peaceful pursuit of self-determination and religious expression.  We share with persons of other faiths the truth that has come to us through Jesus Christ, and we listen for truths we can learn from them. We do so in the hopes of deepening respect for one another, not to impose conversion nor express self-righteousness. We reject merging religious beliefs with nationalism or subjugating one belief system or cultural group to another. We deplore using religion to promote warfare or the exploitation of others and the earth.  Leaders in all faith traditions must lead the way, modeling respect for all our neighbors and all of life.

WE BELIEVE in a church that proclaims the stewardship of creation joyfully and without reservation as an expression of social and environmental holiness.  We confess our failure to recognize our essential interconnectedness with our environment, our exhaustion of resources, and our pollution of land, water, and air that threaten the continuation of our civilization. We urge the development of energy policies that aim at the well being of the whole world rather than simply the increase of goods and services.

WE BELIEVE in a church that strives for the economic justice called for in the scriptural witness: for fair scales and honest weights, to provide for the stranger, widow, and orphan, to forgive debts, and to live into the Jubilee. We recognize that economic injustice is linked to other forms of social evil, whether inequality based on race, gender, or sexual orientation, harm to creation, or the vast inequalities between nations and regions of the world that give rise to conflict and war. We hold that a nation’s greatness is measured by its treatment of its weakest members. To that end, we call for economic policies that reflect love of neighbor by ensuring such basic needs as food, clothing, shelter, quality education, health care, a clean environment and a living wage in a workplace open to collective bargaining and free from violence and coercion. 

WE PLEDGE TO

  • Shape our lives according to the good news of Jesus Christ, the Word of God made visible in our midst.
  • Be United Methodists who embrace our unity in Christ, even in the midst of diverse opinions.
  • Work for racial justice and resist exploitive systems that teach racial/ethnic superiority and inferiority.
  • Build in public expressions of inclusiveness and affirmations of diversity in our churches and societies.
  • Welcome gender diversity and establish policies and practices that share power across gender lines.
  • Include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons fully in our membership and ministry.
  • Support seminaries, mission institutions and global partners in providing inclusive and shared leadership.
  • Support the work with women, children and youth by United Methodist Women and Women’s Division.
  • Seeking to honor and to reconcile our differences, speak respectfully with one another in love.
  • Ground our ministries in a broad understanding of church, community, environment and world.
  • Act on reducing carbon, radiation and other pollutants while refusing to give in to cynical despair.
  • Document and announce specific actions toward these commitments to encourage others.
  • Live our Wesleyan tradition as people of the warmed heart, enlightened mind, and extended hand.

Jill Warren, Executive Director, Methodist Federation for Social Action Rev. Troy Plummer, Executive Director, Reconciling Ministries Network Diana Chalfant, Affirmation Council Rev. Jeanne Knepper, Affirmation Council Rev. Walter Lockhart, Affirmation Council Stephen Mallett, Affirmation Council Rev. Tim Tennant-Jayne, Affirmation Council Lyn Ellis, Affirmation Council Laci Adams, Affirmation Council Jan Olson, Affirmation Treasurer Rev. Steve Clunn, Common Witness Coalition Coordinator Bishop Grant Hagiya, United Methodist Bishop Bishop Sally Dyck, United Methodist Bishop Bishop Robert T. Hoshibata, United Methodist Bishop Bishop Julius Trimble, United Methodist BishopBishop Melvin G. Talbert, United Methodist Bishop Bishop C. Joseph Sprague, United Methodist Bishop Bishop Cal McConnell, United Methodist Bishop Bishop Franz Schafer, United Methodist Bishop Bishop Joe A. Wilson, United Methodist Bishop Bishop Kenneth L. Carder, United Methodist Bishop Bishop S. Clifton Ives, United Methodist Bishop Bishop Susan Hassinger, United Methodist Bishop Bishop Susan Morrison, United Methodist Bishop Bishop Daniel Arichea, United Methodist Bishop Bishop Richard B. Wilke, United Methodist Bishop Bishop Fritz Mutti, United Methodist Bishop Bishop Jesse DeWitt, United Methodist Bishop Bishop Judy Craig, United Methodist Bishop Tara Thronson, Co-President, Board of Directors of the Methodist Federation for Social Action Rev. Vicki Woods, Co-President, Board of Directors of the Methodist Federation for Social Action Rev. John Oda, Chair, Board of Directors of the Reconciling Ministries Network Rev. Amy DeLong, Executive Director, Kairos CoMotion Cathy Knight, Executive Director, Church Within a Church Rev. Lisa Gaye Santiago, President of National Association of Filipino American United Methodists (NAFAUM) Ms. Monalisa Tuitahi, Executive Director, Pacific Islander National Caucus of United Methodists (PINCUM) Mr. Donald L. Hayashi, President of National Federation of Asian American United Methodists (NFAAUM) Rev. John Wagner, Convener, United Methodist Kairos Response Rev. Don Messer, Executive Director, Center for the Church and Global AIDS Rev. Dr. Cheryl Anderson, Professor of Old Testament at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary Dr. John B. Cobb, United Methodist Process Theologian, Author and Retired Professor at Claremont School of Theological Rev. Dr. Joerg Rieger, Wendland-Cook Endowed Prof. of Constructive Theology at Perkins School of Theology Rev. Dr. Miguel De La Torre, Professor of Social ethics (Iliff School of Theology) & Director of Iliff’s Justice and Peace Institute Rev. Dr. Pamela R. Lightsey, Board Member/RMN Rev. Dr. Phil Wogaman, Professor of Christian Ethics, Emeritus at Wesley Theological SeminaryRev. Dr. Traci West, Professor of Ethics and African American Studies at Drew University Theological School Rev. Dr. Youtha Hardman-Cromwell, Assistant Dean of Mount Vernon Square and Professor of Practice in Ministry and Mission at Wesley Theological Seminary Adrienne Trevathan, Leadership Team of MOSAIC Anne Lynch, Leadership Team of MOSAIC Brian Adkins, Leadership Team of MOSAIC Caleb White, Leadership Team of MOSAIC Ian Urriola, Leadership Team of MOSAIC Jamie Michaels, Leadership Team of MOSAIC Johnny Gall, Leadership Team of MOSAIC Justin Hull, Leadership Team of MOSAIC Miriam Wood, Leadership Team of MOSAIC R. Warren Gill III, Leadership Team of MOSAIC Vincent Cervantes, Leadership Team of MOSAIC Violet Fenn, Leadership Team of MOSAIC Eric Burton-Krieger, Leadership Team of OnFire Joey Lopez, Leadership Team of OnFire Sara Darlene Bayles, Leadership Team of OnFire Shannon Sullivan, Leadership Team of OnFire Tracy Merrick, Treasurer, Board of Directors of the Methodist Federation for Social Action Rev. Laurie Hays Coffman, Secretary, Board of Directors of the Methodist Federation for Social Action Betty Kobata, Co-Convener, Program Council of the Methodist Federation for Social Action Rev. Glenn Bosley-Mitchell, Co-Convener, Program Council of the Methodist Federation for Social Action Jan Nelson, Western Jurisdictional Rep., Board of Directors of the Methodist Federation for Social Action Kevin Nelson, Board of Directors of the Methodist Federation for Social Action Melissa Calvillo, North Central Jurisdictional Rep., Board of Directors of the Methodist Federation for Social Action Rachel Harvey, Deaconess, Board of Directors of the Methodist Federation for Social Action Rowland Curry, South Central Jurisdictional Rep., Board of Directors of the Methodist Federation for Social Action E.Virginia Lapham Ph.D., Chair, GC2012 Leadership Team & Board of Directors of the Methodist Federation for Social Action Rev. Nina Nichols, GC2012 Leadership Team of the Methodist Federation for Social Action Rev. Richard Bentley, GC2012 Leadership Team of the Methodist Federation for Social Action Rev. Amanda Stein, Wisconsin Program Council Representative, Methodist Federation for Social Action Anthony Stauder,Illinois Great Rivers Program Council Representative, Methodist Federation for Social Action Betty Ellis,Iowa Program Council Representative, Methodist Federation for Social Action Bill Watts,East Ohio Program Council Representative, Methodist Federation for Social ActionDebra McKnight,Nebraska Program Council Representative, Methodist Federation for Social Action Don Williams,W. Michigan Program Council Representative, Methodist Federation for Social Action Jean Reynolds,California-Nevada Program Council Representative, Methodist Federation for Social Action Joseph A. Perez,Detroit Program Council Representative, Methodist Federation for Social Action Rev. Kenneth Hawes,Baltimore-Washington Program Council Representative, Methodist Federation for Social Action Kevin Mequet,Arkansas Program Council Representative, Methodist Federation for Social Action Rev. Leigh Dry,New England Program Council Representative, Methodist Federation for Social Action Mary Larson,California-Pacific Program Council Representative, Methodist Federation for Social Action Rev. Pat Shipley,Virginia Program Council Representative, Methodist Federation for Social Action Rev. Bonnie Beckonchrist, Vice-Chair, Board of Directors of the Reconciling Ministries Network Rachel Birkhahn-Rommelfanger, Secretary, Board of Directors of the Reconciling Ministries Network Daniel F. Diss, Treasurer,Board of Directors of the Reconciling Ministries Network Monica L. Swink, CPA, PLLC, Fund Development, Board of Directors of the Reconciling Ministries Network Audrey Krumbach, National Organizer, Reconciling Ministries Network Giselle Lawn, Board of Directors of the Reconciling Ministries Network Helen F. Andrew, Board of Directors of the Reconciling Ministries Network Jayson Kerr Dobney, Board of Directors of the Reconciling Ministries Network Joy T. Watts, Board of Directors of the Reconciling Ministries Network Madelyn Marsh, Board of Directors of the Reconciling Ministries Network Rev. Dr. Bruce W. Robbins, Board of Directors of the Reconciling Ministries Network Rev. Dr. Karen P. Oliveto, Board of Directors of the Reconciling Ministries Network Rev. Joshua M. Noblitt, Board of Directors of the Reconciling Ministries Network Mark Bowman, Leadership Team at Sing a New Song and Minister of Music, United Church of Rogers Park, Chicago Matt Coyle, Leadership Team at Sing a New Song Gheeta Smith, Leadership Team at Sing a New Song Rev. Carol Hill, Leadership Team at Sing a New Song and Chicago Northwestern District Youth CoordinatorC. Kristian Clauser, Jurisdictional Organizer, Reconciling Ministries Network Kelley Frances Fenelon, Jurisdictional Organizer, Reconciling Ministries Network Tina Seitz, Board Member, Detroit Conference Board of Chuch and Society, Transgender Speaker and Activist Barbara Wendland, Creator and Writer of Connections Newsletter and AuthorMark Miller, Musician, Composer, Teacher of Sacred Music and Worship at Drew University and Yale University Cheri Holdridge, Pastor, The Village Church Toledo, A United Methodist, United Church of Christ, Reconciling, Open and Affirming Church Dr. Randall Miller, Senior Program Officer, Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund and Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics and Social Theory at Pacific School of Religion Jen Tyler, OnFire Leadership Team Member, Young Adult Missionary with the General Board of Global Ministries Kara Johansen Crawford, Young Adult Missionary with the General Board of Global Ministries Laura Rossbert, Consultant, Reconciling Ministries Network and Student, Vanderbilt Divinity School Rev. David W. Meredith, Reconciling Ministries Network Board Member, Former Affirmation National Council Member, and Member of MFSA, West Ohio Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell, Founding Member, United Methodists of Color for a Fully Inclusive Church, and Black Methodists for Church Renewal Ryan Rowe, Faith and Community Organizer for Equality North Carolina