Bishop Mark J. Webb
Upper NY Area Episcopal Office
of the United Methodist Church
324 University Avenue 3rd Floor
Syracuse NY 13210
Dear Bishop Webb,
In the matter of Rev. Steve Heiss, my wife, Janet and I are sending you this letter to share our thoughts,
and more, our feelings and hopes. We cannot suggest a way to help you reach a decision given United
Methodists’ “The Book of Discipline.” We do not envy the decision you have to make. Finding the
right thing to do, to act justly and with faith, will not be easy.
In the matter of faith and in many other things, as well, change can test us; change in culture and convention can shake the foundations on which we stand. For Janet, the Methodist faith came with birth and with nurture and with choice throughout her life. With Vito, the United Methodist faith was something he came to in adult life, as much through his marriage to Janet as his own experience dealing with change and the Catholic Church’s experience in the 1960s. The ecumenical tone that was struck during that time deeply remains a part of Vito’s current faith. A part of that experience, and we repeat, a part, led him to eschew the Catholic Church’s teachings on contraception, celibacy, and birth control. The openness of United Methodism, its love and acceptance, allowed him to find a home amidst the cultural shifts and personal beliefs in a way that the Catholic Church was making difficult. To him, acceptance was impossible under those circumstances.
With the current issue of same-sex marriage, once again cultural shifts and personal beliefs and existing tenets of faith are creating the turmoil that we are now witnessing.
Through our personal experience of living with the same-sex orientation of a child, we can understand without any debate, why Rev. Heiss officiated at the Service of Christian Marriage of his child. For us, love and acceptance is paramount, not only with respect to the relationship with a child, but with the society and culture in which that child lives.
We are honored to be part of a Reconciling Congregation and express gratitude that this has not been challenged. What is just about our child of God not being fully accepted in the United Methodist Church that preached to him, “God is love” and “You are God’s beloved?” We are troubled by the stance the United Methodist Church has taken recently. We have our own experiences witnessing change and watching communities of faith deal with the issues that inevitably arise.
We wish you God’s speed and grace while you ask the question, “What does the Lord require of me?”
Vito and Janet SciscioliUniversity United Methodist Church