On November 10 following the 10:45 a.m. service, Westbury UMC members will vote on whether to adopt the Church Council’s Statement of Inclusion and join the Reconciling Ministries Network. If you would like to discuss more, contact Pastor Danny. If you want to check your membership status, email Lisa Cleary.
What is a Reconciling Congregation?
A Reconciling Congregation is a United Methodist congregation that has formally voted to adopt a Statement of Inclusion that specifically welcomes all people, including those who identify as LGBTQ. The congregation also votes to join the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) and to support its work within the United Methodist Church (UMC). These congregations are listed on the RMN website as “safe, nurturing faith communities” for anyone seeking the ministry of a church.
What is Westbury’s Statement of Inclusion approved by the Church Council?
Westbury United Methodist Church is a church for all people. We believe the diverse mosaic of all God’s children reflects God’s image. Therefore, we welcome and affirm people of every age, economic status, level of education, faith history, race, ethnicity, immigration status, mental or physical ability, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression into the life, ministry, and leadership of our local church. Our congregation seeks to mirror the diversity of the kingdom of God because it enriches our worship, our fellowship, and our understanding of God. We desire to grow in authentic relationships while learning from one another in sacred community and safe sanctuary—where in the bond of Christ, there is more than enough love to go around.
What is the Reconciling Ministries Network?
Reconciling Ministries Network is an international network of United Methodist organizations advocating for the full inclusion of persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities into the life of the church. It is currently the only organization of its kind that represents United Methodist communities, congregations, and individuals seeking to affirm full inclusion. Founded in 1984, RMN consists of over 1,000 United Methodist congregations, campus ministries, and communities, and more than 40,000 individual members. Within the network there are also extension ministries specifically for parents, clergy, people of color, and students. For more information go to www.rmnetwork.org
Will this make Westbury UMC a single issue church?
No. At Westbury UMC, the gospel compels us to wrestle with all of life and so we tackle issues including but not limited to race, immigration, economics, and sexuality. We may receive some new LGBTQ members. In addition, we may receive new heterosexual members who seek the open, inclusive, and hospitable environment that a Reconciling Congregation can provide. Many churches that have gone through the process in a sensitive fashion have found it to be a positive development for their congregations. Our church would likely continue to have the same mix of people we have now.
If we affiliate with Reconciling Ministries Network, does that mean we are leaving the United Methodist Church?
No. RMN has always sought to work within the UM denomination to affect change. Affiliation with RMN is a public and unequivocal way to affirm our already long practiced belief in full inclusion—“a church for all people with more than enough love.”
Why vote to become Reconciling now?
With the very public actions of our denomination’s top legislative body (General Conference) in February 2019, the public has the impression that the UMC is not a welcoming place for LGBTQ persons. This is simply not true of Westbury UMC as we currently welcome and embrace all people into the life and leadership of our church. At present, there is only one Methodist congregation in the city of Houston that identifies as Reconciling - Bering Memorial UMC. We have a special community at Westbury, bound together by our shared vision to transform our community and world through God’s love as disciples of Christ, and we want everyone to know they have a place at the table in our church.
What is our process for becoming a Reconciling Congregation?
On Sunday, November 10 following the 10:45 a.m. worship service we will host a session for church members to vote on whether to affirm the Statement of Inclusion and affiliate with other likeminded United Methodists by registering with RMN as a “Reconciling Congregation.” If passed, we would take a photograph of our church family so people seeking a church like ours can see the faces that would welcome them into our doors.
How will this change our church?
We will not lose our identity. Becoming a Reconciling Congregation is an extension of who we already are. We will continue to preach and teach the Bible, to pray without ceasing, to worship in our multiple expressions, to serve our community, and to love God and our neighbor in all that we do. This does not make us a “hyper-liberal” church. This does not require that all members agree on every issue. We will simply continue our pattern to welcome every person who comes into our doors, celebrating that we are all children of God, made in the image of God and of sacred worth.