I received the following email from Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson, Moderator of the UFMCC, and it deserves to be read in its entirety. (Also, check out this post by Keith Boykin.)
***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***
Call to Vigilant Prayer and Action
on Behalf of Jamaica's LGBT Community
Public Statement by the
Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches
The Rev. Nancy L. Wilson
May 2, 2007
Just days ago I wrote to you from Jamaica, where I was visiting one of Metropolitan Community Churches' newest congregations, meeting with leaders of the developing gay community there, and conducting many interviews with a press corps hungry for information about who we are and what our lives are really like.
During the course of my visit, I traveled to the gravesites of those whose lives have been lost to the hatred and violence that is directed every day against the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community in Jamaica. These travels were, I imagined, like the early pilgrimages of believers tracing the Stations of the Cross.
Everyone in the gay community of this tiny island nation knows someone who has been murdered. Like the earliest disciples mourning the death of their friend, Jesus, the grief in the Jamaican gay community is personal and runs deep.
Not one day passed without a newspaper article, or radio or television broadcast addressing what to me seems to be the birthing of a Stonewall-like movement. Like the beginnings of other gay rights revolutions in lands near and far, it is those most targeted -- gay men labeled "effeminate" -- who are stepping to the forefront to act up and fight back. The heart of the gay community in Jamaica is young, bold, and ready for a new day. They will not be content to settle for less than full equality, and our call as people of faith and goodwill is to support that quest in any and every way we can.
In the face of violence, Jesus called his earliest disciples to love as he had loved. We cannot ignore that call now. As people of faith, we must demonstrate our care and concern for our brothers and sisters in Jamaica. Their courage in contending with the constant threat of violence and the repeated violation of their rights as human beings must become our inspiration to join in the battle to provide responsible public education and anti-violence campaigns.
The courage and progress against all odds made by gay Jamaicans impressed me deeply. Conversely, I was deeply disturbed by the accounts of hostile mobs feeding on ignorance and misguided faith; mobs that used religious conviction to justify violence with machetes and cricket bats, stoned innocent people, and attacked funerals and churches. The sole reason police intervened Easter day when a mob attacked the funeral of Kurt Lester, himself the victim of an unsolved homophobic murder, was because some brave gay men decided enough was enough and took a stand.
I later had the privilege of meeting with Pastor Amos Campbell at the Church of God in Mandeville, where the violent anti-gay attack broke out. I was able to thank him and the members of his congregation for their courage in opening their doors to gay mourners.
There are others across Jamaica -- seminary professors, lawyers, elected officials, members of the police department -- people of goodwill who know and believe that the way of faith, the way of decency, the way that best honors our common humanity is the way of love and non-violence, not judgement and condemnation.
While in Jamaica, I met with more than 30 denominational leaders, pastors, counselors and teachers who are willing to learn more about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, about homosexuality and the Bible, and about theology and sexuality. They are willing to break their silence and speak up for justice and acceptance. They are willing to join their voices to those of countless others around the globe who are working to dispel the myths of prejudice and fear, and spread the Good News of love and peace.
There are plenty of people who know and believe in their heart of hearts that the time to act on behalf of equality and acceptance for all Jamaicans is now. If you are a reporter, a radio broadcaster, a TV commentator, I say to you today: God has called you into the public eye for such a time as this.
I told my own story and the story of Metropolitan Community Churches over and over during my five-day visit. More public voices are needed. I call upon people in the media to make this possible. And I call upon the families and friends of gay people in Jamaica to speak out against all speech and actions that are rooted in homophobia and hate, and to come out in defense of your gay children and loved ones. Do not allow anyone to blame the victims of homophobic hate crimes. Encourage the Public Defender, Earl Witter, to insure that those who perpetrate such hate crimes against lesbian and gay people will be arrested and prosecuted. In meeting with Mr. Witter, I am convinced that he is a good person who wants to do the right thing. He needs our support and encouragement.
The progress that has already been made toward true equality for gay people in Jamaica is nothing short of miraculous. We must continue to work together, both within Metropolitan Community Churches as well as with leaders of other communities of faith, public officials in Jamaica and political leaders across the globe, until at last all who seek to live under the reign of God's inclusive love are free to do so.
On the final day of my visit, I preached at the service of Sunshine Cathedral Metropolitan Community Church of Jamaica to more than 100 people, some of whom came from Mandeville and others who had traveled many hours in cramped buses from as far away as Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. As I heard the testimonies, listened to the voices of the choir, and broke bread with the saints, I remembered the words of the Sacred Meal we observe each Sunday, "This is my body given for you." All of our bodies need to be on the line for our LGBT Jamaican brothers and sisters, all of our voices need to be raised, all of our hands need to be uplifted in solidarity so that no more bodies are sacrificed to mindless bloodshed and needless sorrow.
Today, I ask you that you take a stand on behalf of our brothers and sisters in Jamaica by taking these three steps:
ACTION STEP ONE:
If you have already emailed the Prime Minister of Jamaica asking her to publicly call for an end to the violence directed against our people, do so again. Write to The Honorable Portian Simpson Miller her at HPM@opm.gov.jm. If you have yet to make your voice heard, now is the time.
ACTION STEP TWO:
People of goodwill must join together in keeping the pressure on the religious and political leadership of Jamaica. Write to the Jamaican Council of Churches and ask them to call on clergy across the island to use their pulpits to spread good will not more violence. Write to them today at email@example.com.
ACTION STEP THREE:
Do not cease storming the gates of heaven with your prayers. Remember our brothers and sisters in Jamaica in both your public and personal prayers. Let us follow the words of Scripture and "pray without ceasing."
Many miraculous things have already happened in Jamaica. Many more are on the way.
The Rev. Nancy L. Wilson
Metropolitan Community Churches
This statement prepared through the auspices of MCC's Global Justice Team, Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Chair.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
MCC Communications Director