TAMPA, Fla. -- A bishop from Sierra Leone preached that the love of God binds us together much stronger than divisions of race, sexual orientation, or even family affiliation.
Bishop John Yambasu, Resident United Methodist Bishop to Sierra Leone, spoke at the Africana Dinner at the United Methodist Church General Conference on Sunday evening. The dinner was sponsored by Black Methodists for Church Renewal, a coalition partner with the Love Your Neighbor Campaign.
Yambasu spoke of sexual orientation as one of many identities that tie people together. He stated that people relate better to those who share the same sexual orientation. He also stressed the difficulty to talk about sexuality, both in Africa and in the United States.
“I’m reminded here that in Africa, sex is a very delicate issue that you don’t openly talk about,” Yambasu said. “And I also understand that here in American it is also just as sensitive.”
However, the bishop then lifted up the diverse United Methodists who offer support for Africa University, the premiere United Methodist-supported university in Africa. He offered thanks for the support of the young students who were present in the room, and noted that their education was due to support that came across lines of division.
Yambasu ended his preaching with a vision of heaven: "When we all get to heaven, there will only be one question asked of us. It will be, 'Did spend your time on Earth making it a better place?'"
He said that our lives will be judged, not by the affiliations we have, but by how we spent the life that God gave us.
“I heard a clear message that gay and lesbian people are a vital part of the church,” said the Rev. Dr. Derrick Spiva, a member of the board of directors of Reconciling Ministries Network. “It is a significant step that an African Bishop acknowledged the reality and personhood of gay and lesbian people, and that they are an important part of the church. Clearly, Bishop Yambasu was preaching ‘all means all.’”
The General Conference is meeting in Tampa, Fla., until May 4 and will consider nearly 100 resolutions concerning the inclusion of LGBT people in the life of the United Methodist Church. The Love Your Neighbor campaign is a common witness for the moral equality of LGBT United Methodists.