Dear Members and Friends of the Desert Southwest Conference,
How might we respond to the depth of evil of the Orlando shooting? This is one of those “fight or flight” moments. We can choose to stand and fight against the evil that is consuming our world; or we can flee and escape into a place of uncaring callousness, this incident of hatred soon forgotten.
I am not certain if the community and the world can rise above the hatred we see in places like Orlando, but we United Methodists of the Desert Southwest Conference can and must. Our churches must be open to all who enter in peace. We must engage in ministries of compassion and justice that do not discriminate against persons because of sexual orientation. We must build relationships with our neighbors by going outside the church walls. And all persons, lay and clergy, who hear God’s call in their lives to serve should have an opportunity to do so. If we see harm being perpetrated against members of the LGBTQ community, we must take a stand to put an end to that harm.
Our Annual Conference meets later this week. In our time together, we will celebrate the extraordinary ministries of our churches; we will lift up excellent lay and clergy leaders; we will begin examining how God is leading us into a future of growth and vitality; and we will worship and praise God. But none of this will mean much to God if we do not also stand together and commit ourselves prayerfully but steadfastly to do no more harm to the LGBTQ community and to very seriously pledge to make our churches places of “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors,” for all God’s children.
I invite you to join me in praying for those who have lost loved ones; for those who are recovering from injuries to body, mind, or spirit; for the LGBTQ community; for an end to violence and senseless death and injury; and for courage and strength for all of us upon whom the task of making this a better world falls.