Bishop Mark Webb
Upper New York Annual Conference
324 University Ave. 3rd Floor
Syracuse, NY 13210
Dear Bishop Webb,
We stand with Steve Heiss in his willingness to officiate at same sex marriages as a United Methodist Pastor. We belong to First United Methodist Church, Oneonta, New York that is a member of the Reconciling Ministries Network. We have signed a covenant in First UMC Oneonta that we will permit same sex marriages. We believe it is the right and Christian thing to do. We cannot stand by and have the United Methodist Church tell its pastors that it is against the Discipline when it is the Christ-like thing to do.
We have gay and lesbian people who attend our worship. Some are members. But the United Methodist Church is treating them as second class citizens. And furthermore, when it comes to marriage, the Church is treating them as non-citizens of the State of New York where they can legally marry, but not by a United Methodist Pastor or in a United Methodist Church.
We find the United Methodist Church on the wrong side of faith and of history.
The statements in the Discipline find their source in a spiritually-violent theology that teaches that homosexuality is an abomination and LGBT people sinners all the while telling them that we have “Open Minds, Open Hearts and Open Doors”. That is a bold-faced lie. The United Methodist Church says to the LGBT folk that their families and their participation in the UMC is second class and should remain there.
I have seen first-hand the terrible cruelty that homophobia does to kids. I have seen kids take their own lives because of the stand of the church they attend. Just the fact that the United Methodist Church will not marry nor ordain homosexual people tells kids that something is wrong with those who are homosexuals. It also gives permission to others to do harm to them because there is something “wrong” with them. I have studied and taught about the Holocaust. I have seen what happens when people are told they don’t fit into the mainstream. It is a short step to permitting harm to come to these persons. The Nazis lumped homosexuals, the Roma, the Jews, the Slavs, the blacks and others as “Untermensch” or subhuman. This can no longer be permitted in the United Methodist Church. You, Bishop Webb, need to have the conviction to do as the bishops of the Western Jurisdiction have done and declare the policy of the United Methodist Church morally wrong and not worth upholding.
We are United Methodists and we are members in this conference. May your institutional heart be changed to one of warmth of all God’s children, for all does mean all.
As a couple we support all in the church, and I (Dick) as a retired United Methodist pastor have officiated at a same sex wedding and will do so in the future.
Richard A. Breuninger Mary L. Breuninger