Reconciling Team Frequently Asked Questions

Who and what is the Reconciling Team?
We believe the time has come to open a dialogue about the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ+) individuals within the life and ministries of FUMC. See our Mission Statement. Through this dialogue, we seek for FUMC to become a Reconciling Congregation.

The Reconciling Team as a group has joined the Reconciling Ministry Network (RMN), a national organization of United Methodist individuals, churches and small groups (“communities”). See for more information.

What does it mean to become a Reconciling Congregation?
A Reconciling Congregation is fully inclusive and welcoming, not judging persons based upon their sexual orientations and gender identities.

A Reconciling Congregation proclaims a statement of welcome to all who have known the pain of exclusion or discrimination in church and society, and invites all people to join in a faith journey toward greater love, understanding, and mutual respect.

Does this mean same-sex marriages will be performed at FUMC?
No. The sole purpose of becoming a Reconciling Congregation is to be truly welcoming of all people. The prohibitions against Pastors performing same-sex marriages will remain in effect until they are changed at a General Conference. The next General Conference is in 2019.

Why is this movement called “Reconciling”?
Reconciling is a process of healing. During this process, the Holy Spirit works on our hearts to effect the transformation of relationships, turning animosity toward others into caring relationships with all of God’s children, based upon mutual respect and grounded in God’s love and peace.

Specifically, we seek to reconcile with those who have been demeaned in the past by FUMC or the UMC with respect to their gender identity or sexual orientation.

We also seek to reconcile with FUMC members who do not share the same understanding of this issue. We believe that reconciling with all is part of reconciling ourselves and our world with God’s will.

How did the decision for FUMC to seek becoming Reconciling begin? Did this come from the Bishops or some specific incident?
This initiative sprung up within FUMC members who have been praying about this issue for a long time. The FUMC Reconciliation Team has provided testimonies explaining why they felt deeply motivated to start Holy Conversations within our church.

How will the decision to become a Reconciling Congregation be made?
The Reconciling Team will host a series of programs open to all of our FUMC family to encourage holy conversation and discernment. These programs will begin in the Fall of 2017 and continue in the Winter and Spring 2018. Upon the conclusion of the discernment process, we will hold a vote at a special Church Conference.

FUMC is already a welcoming church. Why should we become a Reconciling Congregation?
While our congregation is very welcoming, other statements send a conflicting message. The UMC’s Book of Discipline states that the church “does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching”. Among other things, this means that LGBTQ+ couples cannot be married in the church and LGBTQ+ people cannot be ordained. As such, many LGBTQ+ people feel that they are not welcome in the United Methodist Church. Reconciling suggests a larger meaning, specifically that of healing and restoring harmony in our relationship with God and one another through Jesus Christ.

Won’t we be breaking UMC church law if we become a Reconciling Congregation?
No. There is no Disciplinary restriction on becoming reconciling.

What will happen if FUMC becomes a Reconciling Congregation? Will this issue split our congregation?
We believe that our church family will be stronger with everyone working together, no matter where individuals stand on this one issue.

Our hope is that more LGBTQ+ people will feel welcome at FUMC, and that LGBTQ+ people who are already a part of this congregation will feel more comfortable and safe. We also hope to receive as many or more heterosexual members who are drawn to a truly hospitable congregation that welcomes all of God’s children and is reflective of the diversity found in God’s creation of the human race.

Why is this process being started now, instead of waiting for the Commission on the Way Forward to make its report next year?
The Commission on the Way Forward is dealing with broader issues affecting the UMC such as performing same-sex marriages, ordaining LGBTQ+ pastors, and maintaining unity within the global UMC. The Commission’s report may be accepted or rejected, in whole or in part, by the Council of Bishops. The Council will address this at the General Conference in 2019.

Becoming an inclusive church does not depend upon the outcome of the General Conference.

Where in the Bible does it say that homosexuality is wrong? (Question received in Question Box)
We refer to this article for a discussion of the Bible passages which allegedly address homosexuality.

Why does the Reconciling Team and RMN rely on”contextuality” to support its position as Biblically sound?
We firmly believe in the authority of the the word of God. All Bible study relies on context to properly understand the message intended.

Pastors’ sermons regularly explain the relevant demographic, societal and historical context for passages in the Bible.

Many of the books of the New Testament are letters that were written to local churches in the Holy Land with specific challenges, strengths and weaknesses. They had unique societal structures and hierarchies which are very different from those of today.

It is our firm belief that, when examined in the light of context, none of the passages typically used to support a church position against same-sex relationships actually speak to same-sex, monogamous, consensual and loving relationships.

What if I have more questions?
We welcome questions, comments, and concerns. Please feel free to contact Lisa Kulp or Pastor Richard with concerns.

Members of the Reconciling Team (As of November 2017)

Lisa Kulp
Jeremiah Appleton
Cindy Cope
Jen Dunne
Pattie Gritzan
Betsy Heinz
Candace Coleman
Steve Dipilla
Devika Gill
Allan Hanlon
Cheryl Janes-Holaday
Tom Kulp
Jill Lee
Nadine Mack
Abby McGrath
Victoria McGrath
Susan McGroarty
Kerry Mentzer
Margie Morgan
Brian O’Donnell
Melissa O’Donnell
Han Rovins
Joyce Scheyhing
Doug Sell, Sr.
Helga Shay
Bobbie Shinehouse
Lisa Simpson
Marylee Smith
Mary Starn
Sue Swezey
Carol Talbot
Steve Tilden
Mary Wedge