“We, who are many, are one body in Christ.”
We pray for the church.
As we have observed the now-concluded Special Session of the United Methodist Church General Conference, we have ardently prayed for the body of Christ gathered in St. Louis, MO and for our students, faculty, and alumni/ae present there. We have prayed for love to hold sway, a spirit of healing to pour through the assembly, and that Christ’s unifying and all-encompassing love would strengthen the unity of the church.
We pray for the fractured church.
Yet the conference has ended in discord and division, with many people experiencing great disappointment at the failure to achieve unity among a denomination whose name indicates a desire to be “united.” Committed to the partnership in preparation for leaders for the church, we grieve the failure to eliminate the current stance on human sexuality and ongoing rejection of the ordination of LGBTQ+ candidates for ministry. We pray for the 12.6 million members, congregations, and ministries of the United Methodist Church in the task of making sense of the outcome of the conference and its implications. We at Pacific School of Religion share in the grief and heartache many United Methodists carry with them in this moment and going forward—particularly those who identify as LGBTQ+. Pacific School of Religion stands in solidarity with our faculty, staff, students, alumni/ae, and partners and remains unequivocally and unwaveringly committed to its radical affirmation and celebration of the lives and ministries of LGBTQ+ persons.
We pray for those hurt by the church.
Any time there is discord in the Body of Christ—especially where some are welcomed and others are not—our hearts ache. We are committed to continuing to work with our denominational partners to follow Christ’s example of radical love and work towards full inclusion. The church, Christ’s church, is called to not only welcome and hold space for transgender, gay, lesbian, and bisexual people in its pews, within its leadership, and among its clergy, it must affirm their belovedness and their value within the Body of Christ.
We pray for the church with abundant hope.
Yet, in the midst of our grief and moments of despair, it is hope that inspires our minds to continue to labor theologically and spiritually to
- Illuminate fresh ways of being guided by the Gospel to hold timeless truths and inspire new understandings of faith that yield insight for achieving unity
- Affirm the diversity of lived experiences of people today and discover ways to maintain unity in the church across the richly diverse Body of Christ
- Continue to empower students, faculty, staff, alumni/ae and partners to engage their intellect, compassion, and faith to build up the church and create a unity that transcends any human division.
We pray for the witness of the church.
In a time when fear draws lines and boundaries, Pacific School of Religion continues to develop spiritually rooted leaders who set out to create and practice theologies of liberation and radical love that transform the world. Guided by Jesus’ persistent call to expand the welcome—to go to the “other side,”—we affirm and welcome all people of any faith backgrounds and walks of life, regardless of whom they love or how they express their gender or identity, who desire theological education and honor the gifts they offer our community and the church. And we continue to exist as a center for robust academic and theological work that shapes the world of theological education and the worldwide church.
We pray for the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the church.
Truly, our theologies must be deep and broad enough to inspire not only our neighbors but those across oceans and theological divides. Imbued with love at all levels, the church must not only be a place of safety for God’s queer children but a place where their gifts are honored and can take root in the broader church, helping us all flourish and grow. Anything less simply impairs the unity Jesus prayed for—unity that affirms our diversity as a manifestation of the Divine image that dwells in each of us—and inhibits the witness of the church as a place of unconditional love and radical inclusion.
We pray for the transformation of the world.
As the United Methodist Church continues to seek to live out its mission to transform the world, we pray the prayer that Jesus lifted up for us all—especially we believe, in this very moment in time:
“that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me,
that they may become completely one, so that the world may
know that you have sent me and have loved them even
as you have loved me.” John 17:22–23