I am grateful for the attention that The Emory Wheel’s news and opinion sections gave to the United Methodist Church’s (UMC) tragic vote regarding LGBTQ rights within the UMC at its global General Conference. The more incredulous the criticism and publicly expressed the outrage over this backward, exclusionary vote, the better. In fact, as vocal as we may be within the church, it is of great benefit when the larger community and other Christian denominations join us in this public outcry. Such protest further shows the lack of relevance and touch that this unjust, exclusionary policy has within the community we serve.
I am a lifelong, committed and involved member of Glenn Memorial UMC, the church pictured in your articles. I am not clergy. I am writing you of my own accord, so I cannot officially speak on behalf of the church. However, as well as I know my church family, I can say that we are likely more appalled over the vote of the General Conference than the rest of the Emory community.
It feels personal to have our church placed alongside your articles. Your comments and criticisms of the vote were accurate and fair; however, except for the two named pictures of Glenn Memorial UMC above your articles, there were otherwise no comments made about Glenn specifically as a church.
While the Wheel certainly cannot comment on all United Methodist churches in the area, I feel it relevant and important to fill some vital gaps about Glenn UMC for several reasons. We serve Emory students and faculty; we are co-located on campus; we share our institutional spaces; and we partner with the Candler School of Theology, as well as with the larger University. However, most importantly and most relevantly, we as a church share deeply Emory’s convictions and beliefs in equality and inclusion of LGBTQ individuals. This, of course, sharply and completely contrasts the exclusionary ideology reflected in the vote of the UMC global delegates. University President Claire E. Sterk’s strong and clear statement completely rejecting the outcome of this vote was applauded by everyone I know at Glenn Church, illustrating our mutual ideals of acceptance and love. In fact, I implore you to share the welcoming statement of Glenn Church, as it might otherwise be unknown to many within the Emory community.
In addition, it is very important for the Emory community to know that Glenn Church is a member of the Reconciling Ministry Network (RMN). The RMN is an organization committed to activism, policy change and a culture of acceptance and inclusion. For a church such as Glenn to be a part of the RMN means to maintain a clear public statement that said church’s congregation believes in, supports and works toward the equal acceptance and rights of all people, in particular those of the LGBTQ community. Regardless of the adverse result of the UMC General Conference global vote, it is important to know that well over two-thirds of U.S. delegates voted against these exclusionary measures. Here at home, Glenn Church remains unchanged as a church, and we, the congregation of Glenn, remain undeterred in our convictions and beliefs in inclusion and equality. All are welcome here.
Thank you again for your article highlighting what a majority of us know to be an unjust result of the UMC General Conference vote. I hope you might find an opportunity to share some of these important distinctions about us, Emory’s neighboring church, Glenn Memorial UMC.
Reid Mallard (84Ox, 86C), Congregant
Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church