To editors of The Emory Wheel and our Emory community:

I read with interest the Wheel’s news and editorial coverage of the recent United Methodist Church (UMC) General Conference vote to deny ordination and marriage rites to LGBTQ persons. While I’m usually delighted to see a photo of the Glenn Memorial sanctuary, its association with this story brought me pain. We as a congregation stand opposed to the restrictive action taken by our governing body.

Indeed, the Glenn Memorial UMC voted five years ago to join the Reconciling Ministries Network, an alliance of United Methodist churches seeking full inclusion for our LGBTQ siblings. Glenn Memorial also received the “Outstanding Ally of the Year” Award from the Emory Office of LGBT Life. I assure the Emory community that our support of LGBTQ rights has not waned.

The UMC is a global denomination, and the makeup of our General Conference reflects that. The Lutherans, Presbyterians and Episcopalians, for instance, all of whom in recent years affirmed LGBTQ ordination and marriage, are North American bodies. At our recent General Conference, some 70 percent of the North American delegates voted for the One Church Plan, which allows ordination and marriage rites. In contrast, the over 250 African delegates, who come from a very different cultural setting, voted almost unanimously for the Traditional Plan, which denies such rites. The final vote was 438-384 for the Traditional Plan.

Glenn Memorial and our many allies continue to stand and work with our LGBTQ siblings for full rights and rites. I know change is coming, and I believe it is coming soon. In the meantime, Glenn Memorial UMC will continue to welcome all people, including those who disagree with our congregational stance. We love because God loves and has embraced us all in Jesus Christ. What else would we ever do?

Simply put: Emory, we are your church, and our mission is to serve all people in this amazing community.

In Christ,

The Rev. Mark Westmoreland (82T), Senior Pastor

Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church