A Brief History
At the 2018 Love Your Neighbor Coalition gathering in St. Louis, Rev. Dr. Jay Williams gave a deeply faithful and compelling presentation entitled “Ain’t I a Christian, Too?” This scriptural and theological case for removing all forms of anti-LGBTQIA discrimination in The United Methodist Church’s Book of Discipline as the only “way forward” with moral or theological integrity set ablaze a small group of committed faithful who, together, launched UMForward. With the wisdom of queer clergy of color at the helm and a commitment to justice that is intersectional in thinking and practice, the group became the primary platform for “The Simple Plan” leading up to the special called session of General Conference in February of 2019.
The initial authors and contributors to the founding set of values and principles were as follows:
Rev. Jay Williams, Ph.D. (Lead writer)
Rev. Tyler Schwaller, Th.D.
Rev. Alex da Silva Souto, M.Div.
Rev. Althea Spencer-Miller, Ph.D.
Rev. Traci West, Ph.D.
Rev. Pamela Lightsey, Ph.D.
Rev. Anna Blaedel, M.Div., Ph.D. candidate
Rev. M Barclay, M.Div.
After the initial statement was drafted, an invitation was extended to all United Methodists, clergy and lay, who resonated with the stated vision, values, and theological commitments to sign-on in expressed commitment to “a more excellent way.”
Throughout the campaign for the Simple Plan and through the aftermath of General Conference, the growing movement of people aligned with UMForward recognize that the movement of God does not compromise on the dignity or well-being of queer people, trans people, people of color, or any other of God’s beloved creatures and creations. For such would be contrary to the foundations of the gospel message. And so, together, UMForward works to strike at the roots of white supremacy, queer and transphobia, sexism and all other theological malpractice and manifest a robust witness to the creative, liberating, and loving One that sets us all free. Centering the voices, wisdom, and experiences of people of color and the LGBTQIA+ community that have far too long been silenced, ignored, or belittled, the people of UMForward invite all into community that is rich in love and deep in commitment to justice for all.