Seeking to Renounce My Heterosexual Privilege in the United Methodist Church

In light of the decision that the United Methodist Church’s Judicial Council made today–and especially considering the unjust rules in the Book of Discipline that the decision was based upon–I have decided to share the following document, which has been added to my Candidacy file:

Seeking to Renounce My Heterosexual Privilege As A Certified Candidate For Ordained Ministry in the United Methodist Church

April 27, 2017

I believe that God has called me to social justice ministry. If I really love my neighbor, how could I accept or ignore the systems and institutions that harm and oppress her?

I often find myself thinking/talking about my privilege, noting that I benefit because I have white skin, I was born in the US, I speak English as a first language, I am a Christian in a “Christian” nation, I never had to “come out” as straight or cisgender, etc. I recognize that there is injustice whenever I benefit from one of my identities while someone else is disadvantaged because she does not share that identity.

Nevertheless, I confess that I have been a hypocrite. While I have been willing to speak this truth, I have not taken any risks to act upon it. I have wanted to hold on to my privilege, including the privilege that comes from being a heterosexual, cisgender person.

While “self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church,” and while “ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches,” we make LGBTQ people (and many young people, family members, professed allies, etc.) feel less welcomed, less accepted, and less loved by the Church–and by extension, less loved by God. Imagine how this looks to someone who did not grow up in the Church or who left the Church upon feeling judged!

I continue to benefit from my privilege as a straight, cis person, while my LGBTQ friends are disadvantaged for who they are and who they love, both in society and within the United Methodist Church, and that is an injustice.

In conclusion: After a year of prayerful discernment, I have found the courage to finally write this. It is difficult for me to include this in my Candidacy file because I grew up in the UMC, I love the UMC, I am serving as a Global Mission Fellow US-2 Missionary, and I absolutely hope to one day be ordained as a Deacon, living out my call to faith-based social justice ministry through the UMC. However, I feel that I must refuse to be ordained in the United Methodist Church until my LGBTQ friends also have the same opportunities that I have, without restriction.

I hope to remain a Certified Candidate and will continue with the next step in the process (for me, the education requirement), as I pray for the Church and wait to know if the way forward will include justice for the LGBTQ community.
Thank you.


Emily Kvalheim

GMF US-2, Class of 2015-2017

South Florida Justice For Our Neighbors

Miami-Dade County, FL




  1. You are incredible. For the record, I would go to any church where you are in charge. When I start feeling cynical about religion, thinking of you and the work that you do reminds me of the positive impact it can have. Kudos on understanding old institutions and making them better rather than abandoning them. Keep it up!


  2. I am inspired by your witness. What if more of us as Candidates took this step? How could we effect change? I plan on sharing this post with my fellow students at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and dreaming up how we can join the effort.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. YOU are the true loving Spirit that Jesus speaks of. Thank you for being a voice to those who have been harmed with the judgment of exclusion. If we could only agree to disagree and spend our time and energy on serving others, we would be the church of tomorrow..


  4. I am amazed at your faith and courage. Thank you. As a rejected lifelong Methodist I have not worshipped regularly in church. You give me hope.. my faith remains steadfast but without a brick and mortar home


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