An open letter to the Desert Southwest Annual Conference

Rev. Gil Caldwell

Rev. Gil Caldwell

by Rev. Gil Caldwell*

To: Bishop Robert Hoshibata/Desert Southwest Conference

From: Rev. Gil Caldwell/Retired Elder, Rocky Mountain Conference

Dear Bishop Hoshibata,

It was with great joy that I read of the decision of the Desert Southwest Conference to support marriage equality for same sex couples. I amwriting these words on the morning of July 4, 2013, believing that we of the United Methodist Church, in our actions and practices, must be the kind of faith institution that allows our faith/spirituality, to complement when possible, the foundation principles of our nation. The nation, on some matters of race, gender and now homosexuality, has been ahead of the Church. Martin Luther King asked the question; “Why is the Church the tail light rather than the headlight on justice issues?” (paraphrase). The decision of the Desert Southwest Conference complements the growing understandings of the rights of same gender loving persons that exist in our nation and have been affirmed by the Supreme Court.

Some thoughts about the significance of the Conference’s decision:

1. David Brooks, the conservative columnist in a New York Times op-ed a few years ago, suggested that conservatives ought support and expect same sex couples to marry. Conservatives, Brooks wrote, believe that committed relationships are superior to contingent relationships. Thus the action of the Conference on marriage equality has conservative rooting as well as liberal.

2. I, as a soon-to-be 80 year old African American former activist in the Civil Rights Movement, have been astounded that some of the arguments used against same sex marriage are the same arguments that were used against interracial marriage: “The Bible does not condone interracial marriage”, or “The children of interracial couples would not
be embraced by others”, or “Interracial marriage if approved, would create a ‘slippery slope’ that would allow for other marriage practices”. The foolishness of these arguments against interracial marriage have been proven to be that, foolish. Scripture of course, is primary for us as Christians, but we as United Methodists believe that reason when observed, complements Scripture. The Desert Southwest Conference in its actions has taken seriously, the Quadrilateral that is described so comprehensively in our Book of Discipline.

3. I, am one of the founders of United Methodists of Color for a Fully Inclusive Church that is under the Reconciling Ministries Network umbrella. We believed at the time of its founding, that people of color in the United Methodist Church who have experienced racism, colonialism, slavery, and cultural imperialism, in our history, at times supported by Methodism, had an obligation to not allow the United Methodist Church to do to lgbtq persons what it has done to us, or allowed others to do to us. Women and people of color, have known, and know, what it is to have our God-given humanity demeaned because of gender and/or race. We of all people, could not stand on the sidelines as same gender loving persons are demeaned, at times demonized as well.

Bishop Hoshibata, may you and the Desert Southwest Conference, even as some may “knock you down” because of the decision, continue to “stand up on the inside”, believing and knowing that “God is good all the time. All the time, God is good.” The decision is a reflection of the love and the goodness of God, that we as Christians claim to affirm and celebrate. Thank you!


*Caldwell is a retired elder and member of the Rocky Mountain Conference and co-partner in  A founder of Black Methodists for Church Renewal and Church within a Church, Caldwell lives in Asbury Park, N.J. 

Leave a Reply

6 Comments on "An open letter to the Desert Southwest Annual Conference"

The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
newest oldest most voted
Notify of

I appreciate and agree with Rev. Caldwell's remarks regarding support of the Desert Southwest Conference's recognition of same-sex marriage. For far too long, fear, misunderstanding and prejudice have "ruled the roost," so to speak, in these matters. My prayer is that ere long all peoples of good faith, or at least enough to make this acceptable to the United Methodist Churches throughout the US will be the norm.


You are not just a "former activist in the Civil Rights Movement" Rev. Caldwell. You are a current one. I applaud you for it.


Romans 1:26-27
1 Timothy 1:10-11
1 Corinthians 6:9-10


We all know the fallacy of comparing biblical sexual ethics to racism. Most black people are opposed to homosexuality and most of them feel the invocation of Civil Rights is an insult to their history. Liberals that promote the gay agenda have no concern for the people they use as mascots and quickly employ regional and even racial ephithets when they don’t comply. Also, the statement that all Methodists heed scripture is false. Most liberals downplay scripture by saying it was written by mere men and not inspired by God. The culture is their guide, not God.


Watered down theology will lead to Methodist schism.I remember such suspicions of this in 1968 when E.U.B.’s were to merge w/Methodists.That nightmare of rejecting the Book of Romans is beginning.Only the unwise EUB’s chose to merge w/liberal leftist Democrat Methodists.

tim l

God's Word is the same from the beginning of time to eternity. Do we now just disregard Scripture? What about the first five or so chapters of Romans. If the UMC insists on not utilizing all of the Scriptures, I will move my family out of the UMC. As a pastor or elder, you are held to a higher standard by God. Shame on you. The church will always be the "headlights" as long as the church stands by God's Word and not some made up junk.

%d bloggers like this: