The Work for Full Inclusion

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3:22-23

“Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”
Psalm 30:5b

Dear Church Family and Friends,

The scriptures above have been resounding in my mind since last night (05/11/2023). I began hearing them shortly after a Called Special Session of our North Alabama Annual Conference ended. Two special sessions have been called thus far, one last night and one held last December. They were called in order for the Annual Conference to ratify the congregational votes of more than 300 churches to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church in North Alabama. Another is scheduled for September. Their primary reason for disaffiliation centers around the issue of the full inclusion of LGBTQIA+ folx in our denomination. They do not want to allow same gender couples to marry in our churches; and they do not want to allow the ordination of people who identify as LGBTQIA+. The harm these churches have done and will continue to do is immeasurable. Their actions go against our United Methodist baptismal vows to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves. Instead, they perpetuate it. It saddens me that they’re missing out on experiencing the beautiful tapestry that is created when we seek to know one another, worship together, and live in community with people of all sexual orientations and gender identities and expressions.

While this whole process has been sad and painful and has felt like a really long, dark night, scripture reminds me that God is faithful and that God’s mercies are new every morning. So this morning, I begin again the work for full inclusion in The United Methodist Church. I begin again the work of proclaiming a God that loves and cherishes everyone as beloved. I begin again the work of drawing the circle wide. I begin again the work of creating a safe space that affirms the sacred worth and dignity of all. I pray you’ll join me in this important work at Avondale United Methodist Church as we seek to be a place of welcome and affirmation for all people to know that God loves them just as God created them to be … and that God calls us all to love others as Jesus loved. May it be so!

With love,

Rev. Malinda Weaver (she/her)

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