First do no harm.

First do no harm.

Do good.

Stay in love with God.

—Reuben Job’s interpretation of John Wesley’s Three Simple Rules

In passing the Traditional Plan, The United Methodist Church has violated the Simple Rules put forth by John Wesley. The plan does harm, it does not do good, and it violates the love of God.

Recently, Mainstream UMC invited United Methodists to sign onto a letter “calling for a moratorium on all complaints, charges, and trials of LGBTQ clergy and for clergy performing same-gender weddings pending the outcome of the May 2020 General Conference.” This very popular idea has been supported by Bishop Ken Carter, the outgoing president of the Council of Bishops, among many others. In addition, Bishop John Schol of the Greater New Jersey Conference and the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops have released statements saying that they will not enforce unjust laws.

That is, bishops have a choice about if they follow the laws of God’s grace, or the unjust laws of the church.

In June, the Upper New York Annual Conference repeatedly voted its choice not to participate in the harmful and punitive policies of the Traditional Plan. This was our choice to make, whether or not it was ruled out of order. We also have choices about if we follow the laws of God’s grace or the unjust laws of the church, and we clearly picked God’s grace.

We call on all United Methodists in the Upper New York Annual Conference to continue to stand on the authority of God’s grace, and God’s grace alone. Our Social Principles say, “Therefore, we recognize the right of individuals to dissent when acting under the constraint of conscience and, after having exhausted all legal recourse, to resist or disobey laws that they deem to be unjust or that are discriminately enforced” (164.F). If any are asked to participate in punitive measures, we encourage resistance. We will not be moved, because our Resurrection story is that God’s love always wins in the end.

We, as Upper New York for Full Inclusion, ask you to stand in solidarity with the bishops doing no harm by signing the Support the United Methodist LGBTQ+ Safe Harbor Declaration.

We, as Upper New York for Full Inclusion, continue to urge Bishop Webb to follow the will of the conference and join his colleagues in doing no harm.

Prayer for the evening of June 7

Holy One, Scripture teaches that Jesus prayed, before his death on the cross, that we may be one in you. We lament our sins of commission and omission in which we have attempted to define “one” through human-made doctrine and poor translation and interpretation of your living Word. As you gaze upon all of creation and all of humanity with infinite love, so help us to see the divine in one another.

As we continue to gather together in Syracuse as the Upper New York Annual Conference, may our words and actions reflect your love and grace. Give us courage to speak your truth, and give us discernment to know when to speak. Grant us the ability to hear, as Martin Luther King Jr. said, “in order to listen instead of hearing to be heard.”*

Embolden us, through your Spirit, when we want to remain in a place of comfort and complicity. Enliven us with your Spirit when we seek to live as an institution and not a beautiful, diverse, messy, and wonderful body united by your love. Enfold us in your Spirit when we feel weary and want to walk away.

We pray these things in the name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Mother of us all.


Carmen Perry, delegate to General Conference 2020

Prayer for the evening of June 6

Loving Creator, Risen Christ, Abiding Spirit: with humble gratitude we approach you desiring guidance, discernment, and wisdom. You entrust to us the care of the human family, and this earth which sustains life. As a human expression of the Body of Christ, we seek to do your will, even when we are stumbling along the path of life and faith. Please forgive us of our wayward wandering and with grace restore our vision of your goals. Infuse us with a passion to care for one another. Give us courage to speak out against injustice. And help us to treat every part of your creation with gentle kindness that together we may change systems and attitudes that oppress and harm your precious ones. Yearning to grow in every articulation of love for you, we offer praise and thanksgiving.


The Rev. Beckie Sweet, delegate to General Conference 2020

Prayer for the morning of June 6

Lord, here we are gathering again. It’s been a challenging year since we were last together. Give us endurance though we are weary and let our fellowship keep us uplifted. Keep justice and hope at the front of our minds, and bring us back to the core of our faith when we wander. We’ll keep trying to be the Church we’re called to be. Be with us in this space.


Marthalyn Sweet, delegate to General Conference 2020