Philadelphia Clergy issue statement

Photo by Philadelphia Inquirer photographer April Saul. Click here to read the fully story at Philly.com

Photo by Philadelphia Inquirer photographer April Saul. Click here to read the full story at Philly.com

PHILADELPHIA, Penn — The clergy leaders who presided at the celebration of a same-sex marriage in Philadelphia have issued a statement explaining their reasoning behind defying the United Methodist church law forbidding clergy from participating in such ceremonies. The service was held this past Saturday, November 9, at the Arch Street United Methodist Church.

“We acted as a matter of ecclesiastical conscience in the center of a compelling community context,” the leaders wrote. “We believe that this act of pastoral care reflects the love of God and honors and abides by The Bible as well as the Discipline of the United Methodist Church as a whole, if not in part.”

The statement says that 36 United Methodist clergy and 9 clergy from other faith traditions presided over the ceremony. The statement also says that 17 additional United Methodist clergy and 8 clergy from other faith traditions signed the “…marriage certificate by proxy.” This certificate has no legal standing as same-sex weddings are not recognized as valid in the state of Pennsylvania.

When asked for a list of the clergy participants, The Rev. Robin Hynicka, Senior Pastor of the Arch Street UMC (and according to press reports, a participant in the service) said that the group was not releasing the names of individuals to the press.

The statement reiterated an announced goal of the group: to stand in solidarity with The Rev. Frank Schaefer who will be tried in a church court next week for presiding at the wedding ceremony of his gay son. “In addition to celebrating and confirming a couple’s love,” the group wrote, “we, the couple, the clergy and the congregation demonstrated our solidarity with the Reverend Frank Schaefer, United Methodist clergy, who faces a church trial for performing the same gender wedding of his son.”

The full text of the statement is below:

Same Gender Wedding

Statement by the clergy and lay leadership of the Arch Street United Methodist Church on behalf of the Reconciling United Methodists of Eastern Pennsylvania:

 Today, Saturday, November 9, 2013 at three o’clock in the afternoon, 36 United Methodist Clergy and 9 clergy from other faith traditions presided over the marriage ceremony of a same gender couple.  In addition, 17 United Methodist Clergy and 8 clergy from other faith traditions, from all over the United States, had their names added to the marriage certificate by proxy.  During the wedding ceremony the loving and committed couple invited God and the congregation gathered to bless their union.  The couple became members of Arch Street United Methodist Church over 20 years ago.  Today they are rejoicing and praising God that their 25 year love for each other has been blessed by God in the church they love.

 In contrast to The Discipline of the United Methodist Church which prohibits United Methodist clergy from performing same gender weddings, we pronounced that the couple is married in the eyes of God.  By this pronouncement, a loving couple will be affirmed spiritually and welcomed fully into the community of faith.

 In addition to celebrating and confirming a couple’s love; we, the couple, the clergy and the congregation demonstrated our solidarity with the Reverend Frank Schaefer, United Methodist clergy, who faces a church trial for performing the same gender wedding of his son.  The trial is scheduled for Monday, November 18, 2013 at Camp Innabah, Pughtown, PA.

 The United Methodist Church in its current Discipline states in one breath that every person is a person of sacred worth and yet, in another breath, singles out homosexuality as being incompatible with Christian teaching.  Today, we challenged this contradiction, the hypocrisy it signals, its denial of scripture and the threat it poses to the integrity of our call by God to provide pastoral care to all.

 We acted as a matter of ecclesiastical conscience in the center of a compelling community context.  We believe that this act of pastoral care reflects the love of God and honors and abides by The Bible as well as the Discipline of the United Methodist Church as a whole, if not in part.

 We are sad that our actions may cause some discomfort, pain and conflict within our circles of peers, friends, family members and neighbors.  We hope and pray that the Holy Spirit will provide a pathway to prayer-filled and positive interactions that will make a way out of what appears to be no way.  Yet, we will not let this circumstantial sadness stand in the way of the great day of rejoicing this is for the married couple, their church family, the participating clergy and the people of God gathered.

 We are not anything special, really.  So many other people of faith, for many years before today, have made profound contributions to the movement of gay rights in the church.  For their witness and example we say thank you – well done good and faithful servants.  It is our honor and privilege to have been called by God to take our turn in contributing to a growing tradition and movement within the United Methodist Church that seeks to free the church from heterosexism, homophobia and hypocrisy and fill it with the all-inclusive, transforming love of God.

 This Sunday, United Methodist congregations all over the world are being asked to hold candlelight vigils in support of the Reverend Frank Schaefer as he goes to trial.  Please join the growing number of United Methodists and their community partners in proclaiming the all-inclusive love of God.

 “Have the courage to light a candle for clergy and congregations and communities that live by the code of love.”

 “For now we see in a mirror dimly but then face to face.  Now I know in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.  And now faith, hope and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”  I Corinthians 13:12-13

“God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.  Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world.  There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.”  I John 4:16-18

Jay Voorhees, Former Executive Editor

The Rev. Jay Voorhees is the Executive Editor of The United Methodist Reporter and the Chief Creative Officer for CircuitWriter Media LLC which operates this site and MethoBlog.com. Jay is an ordained elder in the Tennessee Annual Conference. Jay has written on life and the practice of faith in The United Methodist Church at Only Wonder Understands since 2003.

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46 Comments on "Philadelphia Clergy issue statement"

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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)
 
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[…] “We acted as a matter of ecclesiastical conscience in the center of a compelling community context,” said the clergy group in a statement released last November. […]

David Ostrander
Guest
Brian Lundin, I was born and raised in the United Methodist denomination. I am a born-again Christian. I read the Holy Bible, pray and worship my LORD Jesus Christ. I am a gay male and I have a close relationship with Christ. I also know of those who have tried to change their sexuality and have suffered depression and suicidal ideations because they lived their lives for the view of the church and not for Christ. You and SEHJr overlooked Judges 19, the story about Gibeah. It is an account almost similar to the Genesis account of Sodom and Gomorrah… Read more »
Brian Lundin
Guest
BTW, I am speaking from personal experience, i have a close loved one who suffers from this condition, which I equate more to a mental illness. Many, Many individuals overcome these issues and several are highly treatable(particularly the cross gender nature). As you try to not only "accept" this but now label it "normal", YOU will be at fault for preventing many individuals from seeking healing and wholeness ….not exactly the "well done good and faithful servant" that I'm hoping to hear..look at the churches that have gone this way…the Spirit in many ways has departed them…i think we need… Read more »
Brian Lundin
Guest
Read Jude..we are living it. I wonder why the church , who spoke the original languages of the bible didn't seem to see any shades of grey what sin is? Why is it i have to repent and be accountable for all of my behavior however those CHOSING to live an unrepentant sexual life not? …your political correctness reaks of worldliness and don't ever call those abiding in Scripture a "homophobic" or "hater"…unless you're prepared to call God the same. The current BOD does not inhibit our ability to love and minister to ALL people, 100% inclusive already…however asking God… Read more »
SEHJr
Guest
So here it is again and I will give it another try… . Now liberal godless false preachers often twist the following passage to say that the sin of Sodom was merely in-hospitality and greed and such. Let us look at the holy Word of God and see what it really says. . Ezekiel 16:49 (49) Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. So they say… you see this is the real… Read more »
SEHJr
Guest

so my full and larger argument which was a devastating to the liberal pro homosexual line was completely deleted

SEHJr
Guest

and…

2 Peter 2:6-8

(6) and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter;

(7) and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men

(8) (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds),

SEHJr
Guest
Oh and one more I almost forgot to add… This passage shows again that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was the type of gross sexual immorality that involved going after "strange flesh" which is saying that they did that which is other than normal. In fact the Greek word for strange means another of a different kind but here means different from the normal relationship with a man and woman. This is the gross immorality of Sodom and Gomorrah. Jude 1:7 (7) just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as… Read more »
SEHJr
Guest
Now liberal godless false preachers often twist the following passage to say that the sin of Sodom was merely in-hospitality and greed and such. Let us look at the holy Word of God and see what it really says. . Ezekiel 16:49 (49) Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. So they say… you see this is the real sin of Sodom and it has nothing to do with a quote "loving… Read more »
SEHJr
Guest

Leviticus 18:22

(22) Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.

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