Thursday, September 19, 2013

letter 69

Dear Bishop Webb,

I am writing to ask you not to pursue disciplinary action against Rev. Heiss. 
Since I am under appointment as clergy from another denomination, I do not feel it is my place to make an appeal based on United Methodist polity.  Others far better equipped have already done so.  Instead, I make my request from the vantage of the wider ecumenical body of Christ.  I ask you to remember that your decision has implications that reach beyond this particular situation within the Upper New York Annual Conference, because your decision of whether or not to pursue action against Rev. Heiss will be a witness to the Church universal. 
Where do you believe Christ is calling the Church in this moment? That is the question the wider Church will hear you answer in your decision.
I do not know what your conscience, through the work of the Holy Spirit, has brought you to believe regarding the place of LGBTQ individuals in the life of the church and in the institutions blessed thereby.  My personal hope is that the Spirit has moved you to desire a more fully inclusive church that does not discriminate based on sexual orientation.  If that is the case, I pray your decision will reflect your conscience and the movement of the Holy Spirit, and that you will align yourself with that movement of God over and against non-eternal church polity—polity that necessarily must  continue to be perfected over time. 
If it is your desire for the United Methodist Church, and all other denominations, ultimately to change and become more inclusive, then I would implore to follow your conscience and be a witness to the global Church, actively working for that change through your decision in Rev. Heiss’s case.   
Whatever your decision, I pray you follow your conscience.  I have tried to follow mine in writing you this letter. 
May God continue to bless your ministry, and may your ministry continue to be a voice spurring the greater Church to work for the peace and reconciliation that is only to be found through Jesus Christ.
Rev. Nicholas S. Preuninger
Park United Methodist Church
Hamilton, NY

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