Our Open Letter to the LGBTQ+ Community

Let me pause for a brief moment and reflect on this day when 177 of my clergy siblings here in North Texas have signed on to an open letter addressed to the LGBTQ community that appears in today’s Dallas Morning News.
Let me tell you what I remember…

I remember a “Day of Listening” in the mid 1990s, where our clergy came together to debate gay clergy among us. Only a very FEW dared speak in defense of gay clergy that day. I was “foolish” enough too…as were John Thornburg and Jack Soper. I was alone among clergy who were associates and under 35-years-old.

But today, 177 clergy from the North Texas area have signed this letter.

I remember the week after that event, when my District Superintendent pulled me aside to privately admonish me for my comments in that gathering…and how he made sure I also understood that my Bishop was also upset with me too.

But today, 177 clergy from the North Texas area have signed this letter.

I remember being appointed to one of only two “Reconciling Congregations” in North Texas in 2001. While deeply grateful, I remember the feeling of being very alone in those years.

In those days, clergy would often privately say “I am with you in spirit.” But it was clear they would not offer their public support.

But today, 177 clergy from the North Texas area have signed this letter.

I remember how, at General Conference 2008, “big church pastors” (who shall remain nameless) literally turned the other direction when they saw me coming, because they were unwilling to debate the issues of inclusiveness with their other big church pastors.

But today, 177 clergy from the North Texas area have signed this letter.

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And I remember the dozens and dozens of beautiful LGBTQ siblings, who have made appointments with pastors all over North Texas, over the past twenty years…to tell their stories and claim their place as God’s good children.

So today, 177 clergy from the North Texas area have signed this letter.

As the letter notes, the General Conference is broken. As I have written in recent weeks, it is likely broken beyond repair. There must be a new way for Methodism.

But even in the midst of this horrible time, don’t miss the good that God has done in the hearts of North Texas Methodists, over the past 30 years.

Lent is the time for “repenting,” and moving in a new way. Thousands of North Texas Methodists have repented of their unwelcoming ways…this letter is a symbol of that.

I give thanks for the honor of standing with all these clergy siblings, and many more who perhaps would have signed had they known. And I give thanks for the movement of God, over many years, that this letter represents.

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He is Senior Pastor of The Woods United Methodist Church in Grand Prairie, Texas. For seventeen years, he was pastor at Northaven UMC in Dallas, Texas. Eric is an avid blogger and published author. Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He's a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named "best judge" by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy.

2 thoughts on “Our Open Letter to the LGBTQ+ Community

  1. WOW. I’m speechless and actually moved to tears here. I’ve heard from so soooooo many people over the years variations of “Mary Ann, I love and respect you as a friend and appreciate all the good you do for others, BUT your being bi, part of the LGBT community, is something my church teaches us is wrong. In fact, my minister said just the other day……” etc. And it gets old. Real old. So to see so many ministers speak up for LGBT people is deeply, deeply moving and appreciated. Thank you to all Methodist ministers who signed this document and please know it is deeply heaaling and makes one feel much less targeted and reviled by a whole religion.

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