Who is in our reach and how can we bless them? That is the question that we are asking ourselves as we begin working with our demographer Rev. Tom Bandy on understanding better who are the people who live around us and what are the ways we can communicate God’s love to them.

This raises a difficult issue with me. I know there are many gay and lesbian people living around our church. And because of our denominational stance, we cannot bless them as they deserve to be blest. I disagree with our antiquated and exclusive policy of not marrying gay and lesbians in our church, and was embarrassed by having to go to another denomination even to be present at my own faithful member’s wedding, a member who has served for decades, gives generously and is a wonderful person marrying a wonderful person.

This is a big problem. Not only does this issue steal the focus from what is really important, and not only is it hurtful and unfair, it is ridiculous, and cuts us off from a whole group of people we just decided we could not bless.

Dear United Methodist Church, whom I love and have served for almost 40 years. Please change. Please stop making pastors not be able to bless the people, not only in our reach, but in our churches. We are killing ourselves and limiting the ministry of Christ by excluding some of God’s children from what Jesus has made available to all.

The Spirit is moving us beyond boundaries and divisions. General Conference, hear the Spirit calling us to reach out and bless everyone and then give us the denominational currency to actually do it.

Rev. Linda Farmer-Lewis, Central United Methodist Church, Lansing Michigan