8 September 2013
Bishop Mark J. Webb
Upper New York Annual Conference
United Methodist Church
324 University Avenue, 3rd floor
Syracuse NY 13210
Dear Bishop Webb,
Being a United Methodist has been an enormous part of forming who I am.
My great-grandfather traveled around the world as an employee of Methodist Board of Missions. My grandmother and grandfather were both UM pastors, and my grandfather served as a District Superintendent of the Wilkes-Barre District in the Wyoming Conference and has two hymns in the UM Hymnal. My father has served in many lay leadership roles at the local, district, and conference level, including a term as chair of the Wyoming Conference’s Episcopacy Committee. I attended Annual Conference meetings from the time I was twelve years old. I worked several summers at Sky Lake, where I met some of my closest friends, as well as my husband. Along with my husband, I left my job to spend a year volunteering at Henderson Settlement, a UM mission organization in Kentucky. For much of my life, the United Methodist Church was the central point around which much of my life revolved.
But I am now ready to walk out the door.
I no longer have the patience for an organization that discriminates against people in the LGBTQ community. How can the UMC deny the gifts and talents of such an incredible group of people? Why does this church have a policy based on such a narrow and selective reading of scripture? Where is the compassion and acceptance for every person that I was taught by my family and my Sunday School teachers?
After attending General Conference as a page in 2008—after seeing the underhanded and manipulative methods used by those who refuse to acknowledge the sacred worth of my friends and family members who are gay—I felt very strongly that I no longer wanted to be part of the United Methodist Church. My husband convinced me to try again, and when we became part of the Tabernacle UMC, we felt that we had come home. Much of that was due to the pastor, Rev. Steve Heiss.
Steve is an incredible person—compassionate, funny, understanding, and humble. He helps our congregation understand the grace of our God for each person, and he inspires us to be better and to carry God with us wherever we go. I have learned so much from him about living a God-inspired life. It is inconceivable to me that the UMC would even consider refusing the talents of such a person as Steve, not to mention the countless others who have been denied their calling.
As much as my heritage compels me to remain active in the United Methodist Church, I do not want to be part of an organization that discriminates.
I urge you, Bishop Webb, not to be part of this discrimination, but rather to work to create a United Methodist Church that strives to follow Jesus’ example of grace and love for all people.