Dear Bishop Webb,
I pray that this letter finds you well, even in the midst of such a significant challenge as the one you presently face. I certainly don’t envy your position at such a time as this, and I am comforted by my understanding of you as a deeply spiritual and prayerful leader. Even so I would be remiss if I did not offer a few words, not just on behalf of Rev. Heiss, but on behalf of a world in need.
During Annual Conference last spring we were presented with a particular set of information that cut through me to my very soul. While churches throughout the conference are losing disciples much faster than we are “making” them, we are focusing an obscene amount of money on building-related costs. Rather than bringing good news to those in our communities we are shoring up the buildings that are often too big for our dwindling usage to begin with. How selfish and un-Christlike!
Yet I have been encouraged by those figures. Now that the issue has been brought into light, I pray that the leaders in our churches (myself included) will have the courage to propose and produce dramatic and necessary change with the way we allocate our resources. I pray also that you will consider resource allocation as you discern whether to bring Rev. Heiss’ case to trial.
A trial would be costly. How much money would be allocated to covering the many expenses of a trial? How many collective hours would the persons involved spend on a trial?
Most importantly, how does a trial work towards our ultimate purposes?
I know that God can work through the most unlikely ways to draw us deeper into the holy community. Nevertheless, I fail to see how bringing Rev. Heiss to trial will “make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” Nor can I understand how such a proceeding would bring “God’s love to our neighbors in all places.”
As you study what denominational law says on this matter I beseech you to look at the spirit of the law as well as the letter of it. This beloved United Methodist Church seeks to be in ministry with all people more than it seeks to be in trial with a few. Please bear that in mind as you proceed.
As a final note, allow me to explain why I’ve chosen to submit this letter anonymously. I am currently in the ordination process in the UNYAC. I fear that if I make my position known publically, my call to serve as a United Methodist pastor will be denied. I have experienced this call so profoundly and specifically that I cannot imagine what I would do if that were to happen. I yearn for the day when people in my current position will be able to speak their hearts freely and without fear. I believe we can work together to make that day come quickly.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
A Concerned Church Leader