In Solidarity: An open letter to Asbury Theological Seminary

image credit: “Resurrection” by Rev. Alex da Silva Souto, Connecticut, USA.

image credit: “Resurrection” by Rev. Alex da Silva Souto, Connecticut, USA.

We as signers of this letter are either alumni or current students of Asbury Theological Seminary. We are tremendously grateful for our time at Asbury Seminary; for the passion for truth and the mission of the church that was shared by many faculty and students alike. Though we each arrived at Asbury with a love for Jesus we recognize that our love for Jesus was nurtured through our studies there and we continue to seek after God’s Kin-dom and it’s manifestation on earth.

Yet, we also must honestly recognize the part that Asbury has played in the tremendous harm committed against LGBTQ+ people in the United Methodist Church. The ill-named “Traditional Plan,” which was enacted by the Special Session of the General Conference earlier this year furthers our marginalization of LGBTQ+ people in the life and ministry of the United Methodist Church. The plan also enforces harsh penalties through mandatory minimum sentences against LGBTQ+ leaders and LGBTQ+ allies. These are the same kind of sentences used in the United States criminal justice system that created mass incarceration, particularly among people of color in the United States. Stunningly, though the United Methodist Church opposes mandatory minimum sentences in the U.S. criminal justice system, the church will be utilizing these kinds of sentences to purge LGBTQ+ leaders out of its fellowship. The Traditional Plan is unbiblical in its construct and in its implementation.

We recognize that many of Asbury’s faculty, administration, students, and alumni have either actively aided the passage of the Traditional Plan at the Special General Conference or have stood by silently and been complicit with its passage. Either way, this is sin. As signers of this letter we confess our culpability in not making space for LGBTQ+ people in our lives, churches, and ministries. We have asked God for forgiveness and we seek to live in solidarity with our LGBTQ+ siblings. As we learned at our time at Asbury, to persecute people for who they are - for who God has created them to be - is a denial of the Imago Dei within each person. To stand in judgment over others and to attempt a systematic purge of LGBTQ+ people through a series of complaints and trials is sin. 

We urge our fellow Asbury administrative leaders, faculty, current and fellow alumni to repent of this sin and to join us in standing in solidarity with our LGBTQ+ siblings in Christ. 

Further, we ask for the current administration of Asbury Theological Seminary, as well as past presidents, to publicly repent from the harm done against LGBTQ+ people in the United Methodist Church as well as LGBTQ+ students who have attended Asbury in the past and who attend Asbury currently.

It is indeed far past time for members of the Body of Christ to rid ourselves of theologies and missional practices that deny the Missio Dei and which cause harm to others. It is time for us as members of the Body of Christ to stand in solidarity with those on the margins of society as well as those marginalized by the church. We rejoice in the overwhelming love and grace and justice of God our Creator, Jesus our Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit our Sustainer and we pray for Asbury’s current administration, faculty, students and fellow alumni to receive afresh God’s love, grace, and justice. 

click to SIGN ON

Joyce Alexander, Port Orange, FL

Andrea Andress, Phoenix, AZ

Robin Scott Andress, Phoenix, AZ

Gwyneth Arrison, Freeport, ME

John Ball, Lake Orion, MI

Joshua Beaty, Fort Lauderdale, FL 

Mark Benge, Ringgold, LA 

Kristen Bowdre, Austin, TX

Jonathan Brake, Reidsville, NC

Mary Brizzi, Springdale, AR

Christy Calhoun, Hattiesburg, MS

Stephanie Campbell, Snow Camp, NC

Anthony Carr, Columbia, SC 

Clare Chance, Jacksonville, FL

Lee Cole, Williamston, SC

Douglas Damron, Toledo, OH

Rick Danielson, Honeoye, NY

Emily Delikat, Franklin, TN

Stephen Donat, Ticonderoga, NY

Matthew Eubanks, Clarksville, AR

James Fu, Algonquin, IL

Karla Fullwood, Owensboro, KY

John Heinz, Atlanta, GA

Katheryn Heinz, Atlanta, GA

CJ Hill, Bonita Springs, FL

Kevin Hudson, Montgomery, AL

Brian Hurley, Lakeland, FL

Larry R. Kalajainen, New Brunswick, ME

Ed Kilbourne, Englewood, FL

Mark Kilbourne, Radford, VA

Amy King, Trenton, MO

Jim King, Trenton, MO

Kent Kroehler, Lancaster, PA

Rebecca Laird, Farmington, NY

Michael Lawson, Portage, IN

Mark Lewis, Strandby, Denmark

Daniel Lowe, Edmonton, Alberta (Canada)

Victoria McGrath, Maple Shade, NJ

Robert McFalls, Tampa, FL

John McLaughlin, HIghlands Ranch, CO

Bill Mefford, Arlington, VA

Marti Mefford, Arlington, VA

Patti Money, Idaho Falls, ID

Tim Nelson, San Antonio, TX 

Linze Pattison, Round Rock, TX

Stephen Pavey, Lexington, KY

Michael Pestel, Bradenton, FL

Sean Peters, Palm Bay, FL

Michael Purnell, Wells Tannery, PA

Richard Reams, North Charleston, SC 

Wilma Reyes, St. Cloud, FL

Janine Roberts, Vancouver, WA

James Savage, Roark, KY

Amy Sell, Indianapolis, IN

Christopher Sikes, Atlanta, GA

Marshall Snyder, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Scott Spencer, Oklahoma City, OK

Brian Steele, New Baltimore, MI

M. Dwight Sweezy, Slatington, PA

Carly Tallon, Salina, KS

Amy Batte Taylor, Houston, TX

Gregg Taylor, Houston, TX

Nicki Taylor, Lakeland, FL

Kevin Thomas, Tuscaloosa, AL 

Cydni Tillery, Walters, OK

Kevin Veitinger, Savannah, GA

Matt Wallis, Bradenton, FL

Leanne Zeck, New York, NY 

Tedi Zimmerman, Kennesaw, GA

Jill Hardt Zundel, Detroit, MI