God’s Love in Action
Love that crosses all barriers and embraces all people.
Our Invitation to You
We invite you to join us on a shared journey of life and faith, open to all, regardless of age, ability, economics, color, race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, politics, theology or anything else that might separate us from each other. Whoever you are and wherever you may be on your spiritual journey, you’re invited to walk with Christ in community with all of God’s children, and embrace the endless possibilities of God’s unconditional love. (Adopted by the Church Council 2/18/17)
A Message from the Diversity Ministry Team
Paradise Valley United Methodist Church (PVUMC) is an open and affirming congregation where everyone is welcome to worship, pray, and be God’s love in action. As declared in our Invitational Statement above, we believe that all persons are children of God and are of immeasurable worth. We welcome everyone to be a part of our community, regardless of your status, and regardless of your sexual orientation or gender identity.
The United Methodist Church is currently undergoing a transformation on LGBTQ+ matters. There are many UMC congregations, particularly in the west and the northeast, that have declared themselves to be open and affirming, or are affiliated with the Reconciling Ministries Network. Our team recently joined the network and encourages you to visit the RMN website for more information on how to become an individual member. More than 3,000 have joined the RMN since the Special Session of General Conference 2019 concluded. Maybe you’re one of them!
We have openly gay and lesbian UMC pastors serving at churches around the country. The first openly lesbian UMC Bishop, Karen Oliveto, was consecrated at our church at the Western Jurisdictional Conference on July 15, 2016. On March 18, 2019, she wrote a blog post about why she is remaining a part of the UMC, despite the passage of the Traditional Plan, and in a previous article published by the UM News outlet, she offered prayers for LGBTQ+ youth. The UMC has shared resources for all churches to use in ministry with LGBTQ+ youth.
We were therefore dismayed and broken-hearted when confronted with the vote at the Special General Conference of the world-wide church held in St Louis, MO, February 23-26, 2019 to adopt the Traditional Plan, which effectively retained the discriminatory language in The Book of Discipline and endorsed enforcing bans on same sex marriage, preventing the ordination of LGBTQ+ clergy, and leaving no room for discussion about the where significant portions of the world-wide church stand on these issues. As a result of this vote, many congregations in the United States are gravely disappointed that the UMC has turned its back on our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters. We cannot predict what will happen, but for many, the decision of the Special General Conference cannot stand. The Desert Southwest Annual Conference (PVUMC’s conference) and the Western Jurisdiction (consisting of the five annual conferences in the Western United States) have both issued statements decrying the legislative body’s decision.
Over the coming months, many of the churches within the UMC connection will be formulating their response to the actions of the Special General Conference. The Western Jurisdiction issued an Emerging 2020 Vision Statement and a Progress Report in March 2019. Visit onechurch4all.org to learn more, send us a message, and stay in touch. As things progress, we promise to share more too.
While it might appear that there are only difficult options for those in the United Methodist Church who embrace diversity, we at PVUMC are committed to standing together, and living into the example of Christ, who extended open arms to all he encountered regardless of their circumstances. We are also committed to thoughtfully questioning decisions by UMC’s governing body that are antithetical to our core affirmations about the embrace of diversity, and creating an environment giving witness to these affirmations. Hang in there! As a church family, we are in this together!
In April, 2018, we began hosting a monthly PFLAG support group at our church. This has been an important way for us to be inclusive to parents of LGBTQ+ youth and young adults, as well as a place of support and care for allies, friends and persons who identify as LGBTQ+. Two years before that, in 2016, PVUMC hosted one of the first Open Tables for an LGBTQ+ young adult who had aged out of foster care, with support and training from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The Open Table began at our church years ago and is now a nationwide nonprofit whose sole purpose is to transform lives through relationships. Watch the video of Jessica, a young adult who aged out of the foster care system and found the love and support she was lacking through the eight people who were part of her table. Led by PVUMC member Jon Katov, The Open Table program is an example of our commitment to being an all-embracing, all-engaging church in the community.
If you are visiting this site for the first time trying to decide if this is a church home you could support, please do not hesitate. Anyone who wants to participate in the life of our church is welcome here. Rest assured that the General Conference 2019 decisions will in no way change PVUMC’s fundamental affirmation that we are all children of God. The ruling does not change who we are as a church and what our mission and vision are. Our mission is to be God’s love in action and our vision is to have a love that crosses all barriers and embraces all people. Read Pastor Dave Summers’ email to the congregation that is posted on our website for a fuller explanation of where we stand and what lies before us: https://pvumc.org/2019/02/27/our-pastors-response-to-2019-general-conference/.
The Desert Southwest Conference and the greater Western Jurisdiction to which we belong accept, embrace, love, and celebrate our LGBTQ+ siblings.
Join us in the coming response.
Richard K. Mahrle
Chair, Diversity Ministry Team
Paradise Valley UMC
The Western Jurisdiction’s Response
The Western Jurisdiction (consisting of the five annual conferences in the Western United States) has created a website called “A Home for All.”
The Desert Southwest Conference’s Response
Bishop Robert Hoshibata of the Desert Southwest Conference, a reconciling conference of which PVUMC is a part, held Holy Huddles on human sexuality in 2017 and 2018. These paved the way for our congregation and others in the conference to better understand the issue that has been such a stumbling block for the church. On March 2, 2019, the Bishop spoke via video technology to gatherings at four locations within the conference. You’re invited to watch a video of the worship service and his message, which assures us of the Conference’s commitment to inclusivity and diversity. Other clergy were interviewed by The Arizona Republic about their responses following General Conference 2019, and the Bishop shared a personal message on his Facebook page.
Stories by LGBTQ+ Clergy, Candidates and More
In a video that went viral from the floor of the Special Session of General Conference 2019, Jeffrey “JJ” Warren urged the UMC to recognize his humanity and embrace LGBTQ+ members. The Huffington Post picked up the video and shared a story about him:
“JJ” Warren also did several other videos in which he answered questions from the community about God and gays. In one episode, he answered the question, “What did Jesus say about homosexuality?” (Short Answer: Nothing.) Here’s the final episode of the series called “Break Down.” He announced that he’d be continuing his ministry via YouTube, Instagram and Twitter.
“This is my Story” is a video project that seeks to hear from LGBTQ+ United Methodists and their allies about their experiences in The UMC and their hopes for The UMC. New videos are uploaded to RMN Facebook page, as well as to this page. If you would like to share your story, please visit http://rmnetwork.org/thisismystory/ and follow the instructions.
The Reconciling Ministry Network shared JJ Warren’s story in 2018 as part of this campaign to share stories of LGBTQ+ folks in the denomination. Watch it here:
JJ Warren: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7aJwDmdE5eQ
From the Desert Southwest Conference, Pastor Kimberly Scott, minister at Crossroads UMC, and her wife shared their story as well: https://youtu.be/DN0wieMj5yk
Watch other stories here: http://rmnetwork.org/thisismystory/