15 Methodist ministers came out as LGBTQI just days before the church's largest global gathering to discuss same-sex marriage, queer clergy members and other issues.
The 15 ministers from the New York Annual conference signed the open letter posted by Reconciling Ministries Network earlier this month. The ministers risk losing their positions because of the Methodist church's position on queer issues, finding homosexuality "incompatible" with Christian teachings, according to the church's Book of Discipline.
Methodists from across the world will gather May 10 in Portland, Oregon, for the church's General Conference. The gathering only occurs every four years and is the only time Methodists can make changes to church law.
"We call on all United Methodists everywhere to refuse their own complicity in our denomination's systemic oppression of LGBTQI people and to protest this injustice at General Conference and elsewhere until it is finally ended," said the open letter.
The group coming out coincides with other efforts to advocate for LGBTs in the church before the General Conference. The team behind the documentary An Act of Love, which tells the story of a Methodist minister who was defrocked for presiding over his gay son's wedding, has ramped up the film's distribution ahead of the conference.