Bishop Mark Webb
324 University Avenue, 3rd Floor
Syracuse, NY 13210
Dear Bishop Webb,
When a child is born, we celebrate the new life, our greatest gift. Throughout life we continue to acknowledge this miracle, at least annually, on birthdays. At baptism the newborn infant, or person of any age, is welcomed into the church community. I’ve never seen a footnote saying you may not be baptized if you are LGB or T. Yet some Methodist churches and the Social Principles of the United Methodist Church do imply/say if you are LGB or T:
· Don’t join this church
· You may not be married in this church
· You may not be a pastor in this church
Deny who you are and/ or please be kind enough to go away. Is this not a shameful position for Methodism to take? As Pastor Heiss has stated, we are learning that being gay harms no one. It is not a sin to be gay nor was it ever “incompatible with Christian teaching”.
No two people (or any living creatures for that matter) are absolutely identical. Being unique is one of creation’s great blessings. Let us embrace our diversity. The basic message of Jesus was to love thy neighbor. Who is my neighbor? Everyone is my neighbor. All are beloved of God and acceptable to receive grace. All means ALL (including LGBT).
As a Methodist Bishop, your need to make a decision in this situation may be seen as either a “problem” or an incredible “opportunity”. You are now in a unique position to act as a “tipping point” for the Methodist Church. This letter is written to urge you to NOT bring a formal complaint against Pastor Steven Heiss (or any other pastor) for performing same-sex marriages. Instead, embrace Rev. Heiss and thank him for his courage and loving actions.
Lois L. Atkinson
P.S. I am a Member of First United Methodist Church, Schenectady, NY.
The father of my three children is a gay man.
I have numerous LGBT friends and acquaintances.