Thursday, September 19, 2013

letter 78

Dear Bishop Webb,
By now, I'm sure you have heard from many on both sides of the Rev. Steve Heiss issue. I would love to be able to say that I trust you to do the right thing for our church, for God's people, and for Rev. Heiss; however, I am not that trusting. I've seen too many people forced out of, or beaten down by, The United Methodist Church.
I understand that you know that I am friends with Mark Miller. I doubt you realize that depth of that friendship. We've know Mark since 1994, when my husband, Steven, began seminary at Drew University Theological School. We became close with both Mark and his partner, Mike, and we have always been blessed by their kindness, caring, and spirituality. When our son Caleb was born in 1998, we asked Mark to be Caleb's Godfather, and two years later asked Mike to be Samuel's Godfather. This couple epitomizes the meaning of Christian marriage, and we consider them family.
Within my biological family, I have an aunt and a cousin who are lesbians. My aunt was an ordained Deacon and probationary Elder in the UMC in the 1990's, but relinquished her orders in the hope of living an authentic life. My aunt and my cousin are each in committed relationships now. I've seen both couples as they have cared for each other through the death of a loved one, helped raise a teenage boy, and dealt with my aunt's breast cancer and my cousin's detached retina. They are just as good to each other as any other couple.
It makes me angry and sad that my church would not welcome them into the fullness of life that God intended. I'm saddened that there are any that The United Methodist Church would turn way. The thought of one of my sons being gay does not scare me. The thought of one of them being denied the rights and privileges afforded to everyone who is judged by others to be compatible with Christian teaching terrifies me, because that is the day that I will be forced to leave the UMC, the denomination that I was born into and that I have served in for my whole life.
Please, Bishop Webb, do not proceed with putting Rev. Steve Heiss on trial. It will divide our Church further, and only bring negative publicity to our annual conference. Thank you for your time and for prayerfully hearing my concerns.
In Christ's Peace,
Heather Smith

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