Bishop Mark Webb
Upper New York Annual Conference
324 University Ave., Third Floor
Syracuse, NY 13210
10 September 2013
RE: Rev Steve Heiss
Dear Bishop Webb:
I’ve read Steve Heiss’s letter acknowledging that 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 that there is the very real possibility of a church trial.
I was born and raised ELCA; I came somewhat late to the UMC, in 2006 at the age of forty-three. My primary reason was a simple and perhaps naive one: our church’s motto. “Open minds, open hearts, open doors” sounded like a church I wanted to be part of.
Since then the ELCA has become what the UMC should be. I never dreamed the church I grew up in would get there first; they were calling us “liberals” as far back as the 1960s but I still was surprised at the announcement.
The UMC is lagging behind; not only are we obstructing progress, we are trying to go backward. And as any physicist will tell you, time only marches in one direction and full inclusion will happen whether those who hold up the BOD as if it were the Gospel itself like it or not.
I urge you prayerfully to consider your actions in the days, weeks, and months to come. There is a big difference between disapproving of certain people and barring the doors of the church to prevent them from entering. Jesus never rejected anyone and as long as the UMC is rejecting people it is not doing the work of Jesus. Period.
Member, First UMC Oneonta NY