“You are beloved and you are welcome here.”
The United Methodist Church’s General Conference 2019 was rough. A couple weeks after GC ended, a student asked if we could consider becoming officially affiliated with the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN), which supports and works for full inclusion for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. He convened a writing group and drafted our welcoming statement, which was approved and adopted by our student leadership and our Board of Directors, which voted unanimously to join RMN. Wesley UVA is the first Reconciling campus ministry in the Virginia Conference.
Here’s our welcoming statement:
Every Sunday, the Wesley Foundation at the University of Virginia gathers around the altar table to celebrate communion. We boldly declare that “This is not our table, not the Wesley Foundation’s table, not the United Methodist Church’s table–this is God’s table, and God invites all to the table.” Throughout the week, we seek to live this welcoming spirit into being. We recognize and rejoice that all people are made in God’s image, and that this image is beautifully and wildly diverse.
To serve God’s diverse community here at the University of Virginia, we proudly proclaim what we feel in our hearts: that every person is wonderfully made, valued, and loved by God. We acknowledge and are deeply saddened by the harmful and restrictive language in the United Methodist Book of Discipline. But we also recognize that the Church is not its policies–first and foremost, the Church is God’s people.
And as people of God, the Wesley Foundation at the University of Virginia fully and wholeheartedly welcomes and affirms people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions. Because this welcome cannot be in words alone, we further commit to dismantling homophobia, white supremacy, patriarchy, and other oppressive and sinful systems.
With our words and our actions, we hope to unequivocally state: you are beloved and you are welcome here.