A Pastoral Response to A Love Letter To Our Church From LGBTQI Religious Leaders

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Editor’s Note: 24 Bishops signed a pastoral letter Tuesday in support of GLBTQ UM Clergy, who came out last week just before General Conference began in Portland, Ore. The text of the letter follows:

We speak from among those who are called to shepherd the United Methodist flock. Our hearts break knowing that some United Methodists from their suffering and vulnerability have written a love letter to our church at great risk to themselves. These persons are self-identified LGBTQI United Methodist leaders who faithfully serve throughout our connectional church, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ and transforming the world by God’s grace. On May 9th, they released their letter knowing that some might bring charges against them, strip them of their credentials, and even ask them to leave their beloved church. We are aware that there are others who facing great risk of rejection, retaliation and even harm, could not express their support by signing on publicly. These are all persons of extraordinary courage and profound love.

We know these brothers and sisters. We confirm and affirm that they are our sons and daughters in the faith, nurtured in the Wesleyan way, serving among us with love and gospel truth. God does love us all without exception. But these our colleagues in ministry are weary of living in the closet, forced by their own church to be less than who they were made to be by our Creator God.  Even more, they are concerned about the wellbeing of LGBTQI young people who like them are hearing the call of God to serve as ordained clergy in The United Methodist Church and are in need of the church’s support and care.

We write our letter now to say to these sacred children of God and members of our United Methodist family that we love them and have been blessed by the many spiritual gifts that God has given them and that they have shared with us. We have been blessed by their ministry in the church and throughout the world in the mighty name of Christ Jesus. We stand with them in their courageous witness to the church. While they could have left, day by day they choose to stay because of their love for the church that baptized, nurtured and called them to love God with all their heart, soul, and mind, and to love their neighbor as they love themselves.  Even while marginalized and rejected by their mother church they love her back.

They remind us that Jesus consistently traveled to the margins of life where the forgotten, the rejected, the excluded, and those considered less than, lived. It was at the margins of life that Jesus offered especially to those he found there, the mercy, grace and love of God. It saddens us that after all these years of knowing and proclaiming that Jesus is the Christ, we United Methodists have yet to fully surrender to and follow the One who came that we would know that God loves us all.

It deeply concerns us that we United Methodists have failed to learn the lesson that the Apostle Peter learned through the Holy Spirit as God prepared him to meet Cornelius through whom God would show him that the gospel was to be shared with all people throughout the world. Nothing that God has made is unclean. Under the anointing of the Holy Spirit Peter came to know that God shows no partiality, and that any one who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to God (Acts 10:1-36).

Our United Methodist Book of Discipline continues to bear legislative decisions that treat LGBTQI persons as if they were unclean because of their God-given gender identity. Even in their fear of God and their commitment to do what is right and acceptable before God we have judged our LGBTQI brothers and sisters as unworthy of being full members of the body of Christ. God have mercy upon us!

When shall we United Methodists have the courage of Peter to stand and say that nothing that God has made is unclean? When shall we believe that the love of God is truly for all? When shall we learn to live in faith and humility before our God of love?

We call The United Methodist Church to repentance for its lack of love for all God’s children, and for its arrogance in believing that we establish the boundaries of God’s love. May we learn from our LGBTQI United Methodist religious leaders who give witness to us of what it means to love without exception as God loves. They teach us much about the love of Jesus within them as they extend love even to those who would turn them away.

Peace and Love,

Minerva G. Carcaño
Grant Hagiya
Robert T. Hoshibata
Warner H. Brown Jr.
Elaine J. W. Stanovsky
Judith Craig
Susan Murch Morrison
Calvin D. McConnell
Joseph H. Yeakel
Mary Ann Swenson
Beverly Shamana

C. Joseph Sprague
Alfred Johnson
Peggy A. Johnson
Susan W. Hassinger
Felton E. May
Sally Dyck
Elias G. Galvan
Daniel C. Arichea Jr.
Marshall (Jack) L. Meadors Jr.
Albert Frederick Mutti
Jane Allen Middleton
Donald A. Ott
Melvin G. Talbert

Laura Harbert Allen, Managing Editor

Laura is an independent public radio and multimedia producer who makes stories in the documentary tradition. She served as communications director for the West Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church for seven years and has more than 20 years experience in public radio as an announcer, producer, program director, and general manager. She has also written about music for the Charleston Gazette-Mail, and done feature work for Wonderful West Virginia Magazine. Laura is married to the Rev. Jeff Allen. They live in Charleston, West Virginia.

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7 Comments on "A Pastoral Response to A Love Letter To Our Church From LGBTQI Religious Leaders"

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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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Wes Andrews
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This letter is one more reason that our current COB has lost authority. Leadership matters. They are the ones who have chosen to ignore their vows to uphold the doctrines of the UMC, and the result is utter confusion and a fracturing of the people called Methodist. Those of us who embrace the authority of Scripture and the current stance in the BOD are under attack by our leaders. We are not bigots. We are not “afraid” of those with same-sex attraction. We are NOT haters. We follow Jesus and embrace people, but without endorsing their “orientation.” We are all… Read more »
Scott
Guest

Amen. Well written and spot on.

David Vaughn
Guest

So, this is the leadership of our 24 bishops? No plan to move forward, or in any other direction. Just a letter denigrating those who have held and affirmed the official position of the BOD and General Conferences for over 40 years, calling them arrogant, unwilling to surrender to or follow fully the Savior, and in need of repentance. Those who should be acknowledged for their courage to hold their ground against the erosion of the culture are criticized, while those who knowingly, deliberately, and openly violate our discipline are praised and honored. Nice work!

Richard F Hicks
Guest
Came outta the closet? What about coming out of the wilderness? I’ve been kicked out of better places than this. I willingly left better and worse places/outfits. The kids of Israel only got milk and honey after they LEFT Egypt. I’m not calling for anyone’s forced leaving. I’m calling for all to find their own place of happiness. Maybe clergy ain’t your happy place! Open your eyes. Gaze after midnight up into the clear sky. Ones reality is only as big as one makes it. Mr Wesley said “The world is my parish!” He didn’t wait around begging dad and… Read more »
jimmie shelby
Guest
In this writer’s opinion: for many, many years, the umc has used an extremely liberal/progressive curriculum in its Sunday school. Many who sit in the pews on Sunday mornings “cut their teeth” on this literature. It is no wonder that the hierarchy and the council of bishops are controlled by that education that was afforded them in Sunday school. Only will the umc come back to the UMC when children are taught Bible-based lessons in Sunday school. That process is not impossible–but it would be long and arduous. It has taken perhaps 45-50 years (writer’s opinion)–perhaps longer–for the umc to… Read more »
Glenn Harrell
Guest
The calling out of the Methodist Church to repentance from this group is nothing short of astonishing. Jaw dropping in fact. Arrogant beyond belief and commensurate with the defiance of God in their circles. If we had 100 pastors who were adamant about their right to be unfaithful to their spouses while remaining in the pulpit, this discussion would not be happening. Unless, that is, the world we are called out of slithered its way into these lives as well. Then they pack together like wolves and demand a parade with full rights of spiritual leadership–the blind leading the blind!… Read more »
Jamie
Guest

My question is–Who are the arrogant ones here? The ones who believe in the Quadrilateral or the ones who believe in experience and reason only?

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