Despite the feelings of many US United Methodists, measures were taken at the February, 2019 General Conference of the United Methodist Church to continue and make more stringent the denomination’s ban on same-sex marriage and non-celibate LGBTQI+ clergy. In response to those decisions and to demonstrate inclusivity for all, especially celebrating the LGBTQI+ community, the Branches Sunday School class voted to join the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) as a Reconciling Community.
The RMN is a group of over 40,000 people (mostly Methodists) who support the inclusion of all persons in the United Methodist Church and who celebrate the loving relationships between all people. They resist the votes taken at the GC2019 meeting. RMN’s mission statement is “Living into our shared baptismal covenant, Reconciling Ministries Network equips and mobilizes United Methodists to resist evil, injustice, and oppression as we seek justice for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.”
To become a Reconciling Community, the Branches Class wrote and submitted a welcoming statement which is both consistent with and amplifies the FUMC welcoming statement (written in 2008): “The Branches Sunday School Class is a loving and open forum for learning and growing in our understanding of God’s world through the study and discussion of a wide range of biblical, theological, and socially relevant topics and materials. We provide an environment where fellowship and the sharing of our individual life experiences is highly valued. To celebrate the gifts that God sends through the diversity of God's people, we are a Community of the Reconciling Ministries Network who welcome and celebrate people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions; races; ethnicities; ages; faith histories; genders; family configurations; physical and mental abilities; and educational and economic statuses. Branches strives to welcome and celebrate ALL because we affirm that if you are good enough for God (and you are!) you’re good enough for us.”