Speaking Against the Simple Plan

52875397_10218441290487391_7716323576680284160_oWhat??? Yes, you read that correctly.

On Monday at General Conference, I spoke *against* the Simple Plan, which would have removed all restrictions against LGBTQ+ people from the Book of Discipline. I did this for several reasons:

1. Truly, the Simple Plan stops short of doing good. It simply would remove discrimination from our polity, but does not mandate inclusion, nor protection for LGBTQIA Methodists. That is still truly a reason to object. Even in dissent, there is diversity of perspective.
2. By speaking against the motion, I prevented more abusive words from being spoken. This is indeed my job as a pastor and a human being, and in accordance with the very least the ancestor of my denomination asked of me, that I first do no harm.
3. By taking this time for a speech, I hope I did more than that; I hope I broke open in this harmful space one more word of grace and of God, and by so doing, did some good.

Here is what I said (words in parenthesis were after my time expired):

My name is Reverend Rebecca Girrell; I am a *queer* clergy person from the New England Annual Conference.

I know that I am a child of God, no matter what decisions and pronouncements are made on me and on you. I also know that my gifts and the gifts of the LGBTQIA community—our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness—bless the church as we together reach the world with the love of God in Christ and in the Spirit.

Our church, sadly, has a long history of harm, about which we say NOTHING: the sins of racism, of colonialism, the massacre of indigenous peoples, the sins of sexism, homophobia and transphobia. And these sins and many, many more, cannot be undone. They can be confessed. But they cannot be undone.

Here, with the Simple Plan, we could make a tiny step toward healing, but it does not undo our harm that we the church have caused to queer people around the world in places where they are not safe, where we are not safe.

This plan endorses NOTHING. It does not bind anyone, not even bind people to inclusion and safety. The time has passed to say simply, ‘if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.’ Now I know that we are not yet ready to say something nice, and I pray we one day will be.

John Wesley does say, ‘First, do no harm.’ But my siblings, he didn’t stop there. He said: ‘Do good, and grow in the love of God.’

I do not support the Simple Plan because it is time to do good (and not simply do no harm). 



Sermon: Beyond the Worry

BBB promo 1“Beyond the Worry”

(February 17, 2019) As I prepare to travel to the Called Session of The United Methodist Church, I am not alone in feeling worry about the future of our denomination. But if God cares for the birds and the flowers, perhaps God gives us something inherently human, which will provide for us so that we don’t need to worry. (Jeremiah 17:5-10, Matthew 6:25-34)

Series: Bread, Bath, & Beyond

BBB promo 2Bread, Bath, & Beyond

“If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation…”  – 1 Corinthians 5:17

The new year always brings opportunity to move beyond our limitations, to find new beginnings, and be better than we were before. This season, we recall that the most transforming experiences of our faith— communion and baptism— are the starting points for life “beyond” our limitations.

As the new year begins, we are invited to be reborn in Christ, as we renew our commitment to serving God and to serving others. As we celebrate communion, we receive the amazing gift of God’s own self to us, and as we remember our baptism, we respond by giving ourselves back to God. But this beautiful exchange doesn’t stop there. We are called beyond this beginning, to live and serve in the world. Let’s make this year one of amazing transformations, for our lives, for our community, for our world!

Sermons in this Series:
January 6 – Follow Your Star (Bread)
January 13 – Call and Response (Bath) 
January 27 – Beyond the Horizon 
February 3 – Beyond Boundaries (the message was a brief reflection on being set free– through the power of God in Christ– from the sin that binds us, especially the sin of racism. The message was then embodied in liturgy and dance)
February 10 – Beyond the Chaos
February 17 – Beyond the Worry

Sermon: Beyond the Chaos

BBB promo 1“Beyond the Chaos”

(February 10, 2019) Maybe we are not suppose to “retreat” as in withdraw from the world; maybe we are supposed to advance into a greater sense of God-with-us. (1 Kings 19:1-15, Mark 1:29-39)