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LGBTQ+-Inclusive Worship Post-General Conference

By Lisa Hancock, Diana Sanchez-Bushong, and Derek Weber

Article Lay Planting Todays World

The United Methodist General Conference held in Charlotte in 2024 brought significant changes in The United Methodist Church’s policies regarding the full inclusion of LGBTQ+ persons in the life and leadership of our denomination. This is a new day in the life of The United Methodist Church. As with any significant milestone in the life of our connection, we encourage you to mark this moment in worship. In worship, we join with our local community and our spiritual community, connected across time and place, to share, respond, and grow into the good, life-giving work God is doing among us. For some, this will look like exuberant rejoicing! For others, a new day may bring anxiety and some measure of confusion. In times of change, it is important that we lean on information and wisdom from reliable sources to help us navigate the path ahead. If you or your congregation have questions or concerns about the implications of the removal of anti-LGBTQ+ language at General Conference, we encourage you to review the video statements by Bishop Saenz and Bishop Shelton. Other reliable sources of information include United Methodist News and your annual conference’s communications team. If you have specific questions related to your local context, do not hesitate to reach out to your District Superintendent.

There is no doubt, transitions and change are difficult, even when we listen to reliable voices and find answers to our questions. Worship is a place where we meet in the middle of our rejoicing and our anxieties, turning our faces toward the God who made us, loves us, saves us, and sustains us. Wherever you and your congregation find yourselves today and in the coming weeks, we hope these worship resources and suggestions will assist you in basking in the wonder of God’s grace as we navigate this new time in our denomination, believing that God is leading all of us in building God’s kin-dom on earth as it is in heaven. Together.


All good pastoral preaching is contextual and timely, “a word in season.” Therefore, it is hard to be proscriptive about what and how to preach in this new era of our denomination. Some preachers will be rightly celebrative, proclaiming the good news of liberation and a reclaiming of those who have been marginalized by policy and practice. Other preachers might want to offer reassurance of the foundations of faith and that the word of God continues to be the guide for our theology and ministry, despite what some detractors might claim.

But perhaps the best place to start would be to lean into our call to radical hospitality. Like Jesus, we are to be the ones who welcome, include, sit at the table, and are in ministry with all who are open to and who are seeking to follow Christ. The invitation to come is one we continue to offer, continue to echo, continue to embrace as the definition of what it means to be in ministry to the world.

As for texts, there are many. A look at the lectionary week by week through the lens of hospitality will no doubt bring surprising insights. Something as foundational as John 3 and the conversation with Nicodemus that leads to the profound proclamation that God so loved the world, and that Christ came not for condemnation but for salvation might bring us back to an understanding of motivations. Or we could start with Paul’s call in 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 to understand our mission as one of reconciliation and an embrace of the new creation at work in all of us. We might proclaim the vision of a world without division and boundaries through the unity in Christ in Galatians 3:28. There is also Jonah’s call to preach to those he thought enemies, knowing that God leads with love and forgiveness. Jesus’ encounter with the Syrophoenician woman in Mark 7, beginning with verse 26, might be an example of transformation of thought and action to the other.

Read the room is advice we need to heed. Not to be safe; we are beyond the time when safe sermons can help us. But read the room to know where the concerns are, where the wounds are, and where the joy and hope are. We preach a kin-dom vision always.


Calls to Worship

We, of many backgrounds and identities, personalities, and ideas,
gather collectively in shared pursuit of the Sacred.
Together, we make up the body of Christ.

Wherever one of us is in pain,
our whole body aches.

Whenever one of us is cut off,
the whole body is wounded.

Whoever is kept away by discriminatory policies or practices or prejudices,
Our collective soul suffers the loss of their presence.

We need one another in order to be whole,
God, make us the body of Christ as you envisioned.

May we become your presence enfleshed, in service to the world and one another. Amen.

Written by M Jade Kaiser, posted on the enfleshed website at https://enfleshed.com/liturgy/lgbtqia-related/.

Leaders: This is the day that the Lord has made
Congregation: Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Leader: This morning, we celebrate the work of our General Conference in Charlotte. Almost 800 voting delegates from around the world and many more observers and supporters. We give thanks for the dedication of many that makes our connectional life possible.

Once again, our denomination has shifted.

Congregation: We give thanks for the spirit of God moving in our midst.

Leader: Some of us have been longing for change, while others feel anxious in a changing world. Prepare us, oh God, for the transformation within our midst. Help us to come together in Christian unity, keeping our focus on your love and connection rather than on forces of division that seek to destroy your beloved community.

Leader: Draw us in, oh God.

Congregation: Help us to cherish our differences while we learn to live and love. Challenge us to grow in love.

Leader: We enter into a new day with possibility and hope.

Congregation: Transform our hearts so that we may transform your world in light and love. Amen.

Found in Reconciling Ministries Network, “Liturgy for a New Day,” page 4, https://rmnetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/Liturgy-for-a-New-Day-General-Conference-Worship-Response-Resource.pdf.

Opening Prayer

Lifegiving God. We thank you, divine Seamstress for you never stop creating. From the dawn of time, to our mother’s womb, even in the age to come, your creativity is as endless as eternity. Today you are knitting us, your people, into a garment of many colors. We thank you, Holy Spirit, for you do not allow us to grow complacent. You stir up dreams and visions within us, making us restless for a new Heaven and a new Earth. You clothe us with power to bring these dreams to life. In you, we are beginning to see all things anew. We thank you, Christ our Savior, for your wondrous transformation, Word made into flesh. You challenge us with foreign experiences, teaching us that those we thought were strange and cut off are members in your holy body. Therefore, with Joseph and all of Israel’s children, with the confused disciples and the Ethiopian eunuch, with all who have shown us your way, all you have gone before us, and all those we gather with this day, we praise your name.

From the “Reconciling in Christ Sunday 2018: Dreams & Visions of the Church ReImagined Service,” Reconciling Works: Lutherans for Full Participation, Deepening and Expanding Worship, page 5, https://www.reconcilingworks.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Deepening-Expanding-Worship-PDF-2021.pdf.

Additional liturgical resources


"All Are Welcome" by Marty Haugen — This hymn celebrates the diversity of God's creation and emphasizes the inclusive nature of God's love. Upper Room Worshipbook #58.

"All Belong Here" by David Lohman — This uplifting anthem celebrates the diversity of God's family and proclaims that everyone is welcome in God's house.

"Draw the Circle Wide" — This beautiful hymn by Gordon Light emphasizes the inclusivity of God's love and invites people from all walks of life to come together in community. It’s a song for many who feel marginalized and has become a rally song for LGBTQ+ United Methodists and Reconciling Ministries churches. Worship & Song #3154.

“For Everyone Born (A Place at the Table)” by Shirley Erena Murray — This song affirms the sacred worth of all individuals, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. Worship & Song #3149.

"Love Is Love Is Love" by Abbie Betinis — This contemporary song emphasizes the universality of love and highlights the importance of acceptance and inclusion.

Songs for the Holy Other: Hymns Affirming the LGBTQIA2+ Community.

Additional Resources

“One Heart: Talking about the Removal of Restrictive Language in the Book of Discipline” by Rev. Bradley Laurvick.

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