September 11, 2011
Bishop Mark Webb
Upper New York Annual Conference
324 University Ave., Third Floor
Syracuse, NY 13210
Syracuse, NY 13210
RE: Rev. Steve Heiss
Dear Bishop Webb,
I’ve read Rev. Steve Heiss’ letter stating that, contrary to rules in the Book of Discipline, he has conducted wedding services for same-sex couples now that marriage equality has become law in New York State. I understand that he has been charged with violating the BOD, and there is the possibility of a church trial
I have only recently joined the United Methodist Church family (roughly 10 years ago), but have been a Christian my entire life. I am unable to quote from the bible and have only recently become aware of the rules of the BOD within the Methodist Church, so am worried I will be unable to adequately support my belief that Jesus would support gay marriage within the UMC.
I have been a part of discussions surrounding this topic for years, and have heard each side’s argument for or against gay marriage being performed within the church (using the broad term church as I have been a member of other Christian faiths, as well as those discussing the issue have been from various Christian faiths.) I’ve come to the conclusion there is no one perfect answer for or against gay marriage within the Christian faith. However, I would like to offer one…
What would Jesus do? I hesitated using that phrase, as I believe it conjures up visions of t-shirts, bumper stickers, and wrist bands (aka Christian souvenirs or show of “team” support), but believe it is really that simple. While I in no way see the LGBT community as separate from the community at large, they are currently still consider somewhat of the “outcasts” of society by many. There are plenty of examples of Jesus embracing societal “outcasts” and treating them just like any other human being and often treating them as if they were the most revered of society. So, I truly believe that Jesus would embrace marriage equality for all of God’s children, including marriage between two men or two women.
I realize that no matter your personal beliefs, you have been charged to uphold the BOD, and as the Bishop for Tabernacle UMC it is your unfortunate responsibility to decide what next step should be taken should Pastor Heiss continue to perform same sex marriages (as I believe he will, and as a member of Tabernacle, I fully support and applaud him doing so.) I would like to remind you of the numerous times that Jesus broke the religious “law” of his time. I encourage you to give prayerful thought to your opportunity to stand up against an unjust religious “law” of your time as Pastor Steve Heiss has so bravely decided to do.
Mary N. Andersen