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Inclusion at Highland

For several years, Highland UMC has been having conversations about human sexuality and Christian teaching. We’ve spent time studying the Bible, talking in the Sunday School hours and on Wednesday nights gathered around tables in the Conference Room. In February of 2020, Highland’s Church Council passed an Inclusion statement and asked the Congregation to give feedback and to vote on whether or not to adopt the statement. Due to Covid, that vote did not take place until the fall of 2020. With over 260 votes cast, the statement passed with an 80% vote in our church community.

Our Inclusion Statement:  “We recognize that as children of God all people are of sacred worth. Because Christ has opened the church to all people, we fully welcome, accept, and affirm each and every person into full fellowship, without regard to their age, economic class, educational level, gender identity, marital status, mental ability, nationality, physical ability, race, or sexual orientation. It will be our position to support the candidacy and ordination of qualified persons regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Likewise, we will support the rights of the clergy of Highland UMC to perform marriages for all couples who seek to be married.”

Exploring Becoming a Reconciling Church

In thinking through how we might live into this Inclusion statement, Highland’s Church Council voted to pursue becoming a “Reconciling Church” and join Reconciling Ministries Network. Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) has been actively involved within the United Methodist Church working for the full inclusion of the LGBTQ Community into the life and service of the UMC. For people unfamiliar with RMN, this raises a lot of questions and requires both education and discussion.

Frequently Asked Questions about RMN

Moving Forward Together – Congregational Vote

The choice of whether or not to participate in Reconciling Ministries Network will be decided by a vote of our whole church community, in the same manner that the inclusion statement vote was held in August 2020.  The vote will be done electronically May 16 – 23, 2021. The link will be sent in a special e-mail message, in that week’s e-news, and available here the week of the vote. Anyone who is uncomfortable with the electronic ballot can vote by proxy with a member of the pastoral staff or request a paper ballot.

Answering Questions

We've received lots of questions about RMN and Highland's interest in it, so a few of our lay leaders have put together a video helping to offer answers and help describe Highland's journey thus far.

Why This Matters

Several Highland members shared their own stories and why Highland's move towards becoming a reconciling church matters to them.

Next Steps Discussions

We held three hybrid meetings to explore Reconciling Ministries Network and what it would mean for Highland to become a reconciling church. The recordings of the first two discussions are linked below: 

Background

The United Methodist Church has struggled with questions around sexual orientation for decades. The current official position of the denomination forbids the ordination of self-avowed, practicing homosexuals, United Methodist clergy are not allowed to perform same sex marriages, and same sex marriages cannot be performed in United Methodist church facilities. The North Carolina Conference voted last June to support actions by General Conference that would change the current Discipline in favor of full inclusion for LGBTQIA+ individuals, both in terms of ordination and marriage ceremonies. The next General Conference has been postponed until the end of August 2022, but these questions remain before our denomination.