September 4, 2013
Bishop Mark Webb
Upper New York Conference
United Methodist Church
324 University Ave., 3rd Floor
Syracuse, NY 13210
Syracuse, NY 13210
Dear Bishop Webb:
I hope you had a great vacation. I imagine, though I could be very wrong, that you are thinking, “Why me? I just want to continue to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to the people”
That’s why I’m hoping, Bishop Webb, that that’s exactly what you will continue to do, and reject, with Pastor Steve Heiss, and others, the hateful and unchristian language that is in our Discipline.
Tom and I looked for a church in the early 2000s and my neighbor recommended Tabernacle, knowing it to be open and welcoming. We attended, we loved the open and loving community we found there, and joined the church. Imagine our horror when we found that the denomination we had just embraced, had language in the rule book that marginalized our gay brothers and sisters into Second Class Christians. But no worries, Tabernacle started the process to become a Reconciling Church and we knew that our Church exemplified the motto “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open doors”
In doing some research regarding the United Methodist Discipline, I find that the section against clergy marrying same sex couples was added to the Discipline only in 1984, a rule that was added by humans less than 30 years ago. In fact when Steve became a United Methodist Minister, that paragraph was not included.
Jesus himself was not in favor of rules that excluded and marginalized people. When he healed on the Sabbath, he was not breaking some recent, man-made rule, but was breaking God’s law that was written in stone, literally. But to him, the worth of sharing his message of love and inclusion was more valuable that upholding an unjust law.
My prayer for you, Bishop Webb, is that, filled with the love of Jesus Christ, you too will share the message of Jesus’ love and join with Steve and others in deciding to be obedient to the gospel and not the Discpline’s uninclusive language.