Blaine Memorial UMC to join Reconciling Ministries Network!
By The Reconciling Ministries Team, photo by Jesse N. Love
Hello there! Greetings! It is with great news that after a long period of prayer, study, and thoughtful dialogue and discernment, we took our Reconciling Ministries vote on Sunday, November 5, 2023. During this time, 124 church members and active participants of Blaine Memorial UMC voted. The vote passed unanimously. Congratulations on voting on a welcome statement that affirms LGBTQIA+ people and to commemorate the Blaine Memorial United Methodist Church’s joining in the Reconciling Ministries Network.
Blaine Memorial UMC celebrates God’s gift of diversity and values the wholeness made possible in community equally shared and shepherded by all. We welcome and affirm people of every gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation, who are also of every age, race, ethnicity, physical and mental ability, level of education, and family structure, and of every economic, immigration, marital, and social status, and so much more. We acknowledge that we live in a world of profound social, economic, and political inequities. As followers of Jesus, we commit ourselves to the pursuit of justice and pledge to stand in solidarity with all who are marginalized and oppressed.
We want to personally thank the Rev. Jeremy Smith from First United Methodist Church of Seattle who came to Blaine Memorial UMC to open the envelopes and to count the ballots. The ballot process was handled confidentially and in high regard. The Blaine Memorial UMC Reconciling Ministries Team was notified of the results on November 5, 2023, at 3:30PM.
Conversations and discussions about becoming an inclusive church community began more than 17 years ago. These conversations and dialogue were intermittent throughout the years. Intentional discussions on the exploration of what it would look like to become a Reconciling Ministries congregation began over a year and a half ago as one of the outcomes from the Innovation Hub Committee. The Innovation Hub was a research and design project geared to engage young adults and young people in the church led by the leadership of Lynne Onishi and Yoshi Kuramoto. This core group of young adults and youth recruited many members from the church community to host Bible Studies, small groups, and spaces where the church community could engage in dialogue and thoughtful discernment. Although this would not change the polity of the UMC at this time, it would announce that this congregation is in support of full inclusion for people of all gender identities, sexual orientations, and gender expressions.
Now that we are a Reconciling congregation, our work is just beginning. Our goal is to continue our pursuit to live more fully into our status. We have vowed to engage ourselves in educational opportunities to help us understand more clearly the various aspects of full inclusion, such as (but not limited to): (a) physical barriers that exclude, (b) subtle and unintentional but exclusionary language we use, (c) what the diverse “LGBTQIA+” identity labels mean to those who use them and live them each day, (d) why people share personal pronouns and how to include this practice in our context, (e) and other ethical “etiquettes” necessary to providing a safe and brave space. The list goes on. In our practice, we are ready to learn from and listen to voices on the margins.
Congratulations, Blaine Memorial UMC! Thank you for being a part of this journey as we continue to explore and learn together.
The Reconciling Ministries Team
- Lynne Onishi, RMN Convener
- Joshua A.
- Arlene Naganawa
- Yoshi Kuramoto
- Terri Pittman
- Jarrett Shirouzu
- Jem Tong
- Dale H. Watanabe
- Malia Yamamoto
- Rev. Karen Yokota Love
- Rev. Mia MiKyung Park