Nine years ago Hillview United Methodist Church took a vote to be a Reconciling Congregation. We are the only United Methodist Church in Idaho to vote to welcome all people. Our statement for all of these years has been, and continues to be: Hillview United Methodist is a Reconciling Congregation, welcoming all persons into full participation in the life of the congregation regardless of age, sexual orientation, gender identity, family configuration, racial or ethnic background, economic status, or mental or physical abilities. As we journey to the reconciliation of all persons as children of God, we celebrate our human family’s diversity.
The recent decision of the United Methodist Church to adopt a plan that continues to reject LGBTQI people is abhorrent to us. The plan attempts to tighten the punishment for clergy who officiate at same-sex weddings, and states that the church will continue to not ordain LGBTQI people. Hillview United Methodist Church will not go along with our denomination’s discrimination. We will continue to welcome same-sex weddings in our sanctuary, officiated by our pastor. We will continue to affirm that LGBTQI persons may be called to ministry. We will continue to help lead the prayer vigil at the state Capitol every Wednesday to call for Idaho to Add the Words. We will continue to walk in the Pride Parade as a congregation. We will continue to defy the United Methodist Church and instead emphasize the Wesleyan doctrine of grace.
We invite you to join us in extending God’s unconditional love unconditionally. We took the vote nine years ago because we wanted everyone to know before they even enter our building that they are safe and loved and welcome, not just by some in the church, but by the whole congregation.
There are other congregations in Idaho that fully welcome people who are LGBTQI, and who have taken a vote, but they are not Methodists. We have been asked why we remain United Methodist instead of joining another denomination. The United Methodist Church has been the second-largest Protestant denomination. We decided to stay and fight for our denomination of 12 million people. The vote at our recent General Conference was decided by just 54 people. We are getting closer to including all people! If we unite and continue to refuse to discriminate, the United Methodist Church may be able to avoid the split we went through in 1844 over slavery. We are determined to be on the right side of history this time.
As we engage in these discussions, please remember that we are not talking about issues. We are working toward including our family members, our neighbors, our co-workers, your friends who have been excluded elsewhere.
The Rev. Brenda Sene is senior pastor of Hillview United Methodist Church.