What??? 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).