Thursday, September 19, 2013

letter 71

September 18, 2013

Dear Bishop Webb,

You may not remember me.  We met briefly after your first meeting with Steve Heiss regarding the charges brought against him for performing same-sex marriages.  I was there for the prayer vigil on Steve’s behalf.  I caught up with you in the stairwell as you were leaving for the day.  I introduced myself as a life-long Methodist, baptized and raised in the church.  I was such a “good Methodist” that I even married a United Methodist pastor – and I recently played a minister on the Netflix series, HOUSE OF CARDS.  (If you look closely in my last scene with Kevin Spacey, you’ll see I wore my United Methodist Women’s Mission Recognition pin on my tie!)  What better United Methodist credentials could a guy need?  I remember you saying in response that you and your wife were big fans of HOUSE OF CARDS.  I laughed a little on the inside when you told me that, knowing first-hand how “incompatible with Christian teachings” our show is.  In spite of that irony, I was happy to know you were a fan. 

I also told you of my support for Steve and the position he is taking to overturn the discriminatory language in the Book of Discipline.  I mentioned that Steve officiated at our wedding and is a dear friend.  And most importantly, I shared with you that this was a deeply personal issue for me as my oldest brother was gay.  The gay brother who was also raised in the Methodist Church, the gay brother who was a father figure to me, the gay brother who taught me what it means to be courageous, to have faith, and to be a man in the face of a terrible illness that eventually claimed his life.  You may recall me saying that our church’s current stance on homosexuality is telling me that his life was incompatible with Christian teaching – I told you that I found that unacceptable.  

It had been a long day and I have since forgiven you your poker face and lack of response to the personal story I had shared.  But I left you with this – my hope that you would be the one, the one who would have the courage, by God’s grace, to do the right thing and take a stand against the harm that our church is causing GLBT people, their families and their friends.  I still cling to that hope and pray that you will join us in this fight to change the language in our Book of Discipline which causes such great harm.  I still have hope that all of God’s children may fully participate in the life of our beloved church and take their rightful place at the table.  I believe the church will change on this issue eventually.  So why not join us?  To quote Bishop Tutu, “Join the winning side!”  This is still my hope, Bishop Webb, that you will join the winning side.  There is most definitely a right and wrong in this situation.  It is wrong to discriminate against our GLBT brothers and sisters.  It is wrong to deny them full participation in the life and joys of our beloved church.  So, please, do what is right and join the winning side.


Bill Phillips

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