September 13, 2013
Bishop Mark Webb
UNY Conference Office
324 University Avenue, 3rd Floor
Syracuse, NY, 13210
Dear Bishop Webb:
I am writing to you today out of concern for the future of the church I grew up in and up until recently had much hope for. I used to love the United Methodist Church and all it stood for, but I can no longer say that. We seem to be living by our own set of rules and unwilling to hear and live God’s will. If all people are not welcomed as individuals of worth will all the same rights, privileges and welcoming love, this this is not my church.
My friend, Rev. Stephen Heiss, as I understand it, has been brought up on charges for performing same gender marriages in his church. Rev. Heiss is a good and faithful servant of God, a man of great compassion and one who knows the desire of God to welcome all people. I wonder when or if the rest of the UMC will open their minds to the fact that we are all children of God. To identify his activity as wrong, may meet the requirements of the Discipline, but if that is true, the Discipline is not in compliance with God’s Word. It seems that over the years we have made, more than once, mistakes that bar or limit the rights of certain people. Yet, we have not learned – how long before we are doing an act of repentance for our treatment of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender people will it be?
John Wesley taught by example that we need to reach out to all persons in the name of Christ. Christ calls us to minister to ALL people. I truly believe that Christ calls us to reach out to all persons. We may never discover some of the most beautiful and spiritual gifts some folks have been given because we have not accepted them, have judged them and treated them as lesser people. How do we welcome people who fear repercussions if they come into the fold.
I know this is an issue which you are still considering, yet it seems so simple to many of us – we are not to judge, exclude, do harm and are called to do much good as we walk humbly with God. I know this is difficult for you and others in leadership in the church. But we need people such as you to be willing to approach this with an Open mind and seek God’s will. Only then can we attain what we have already claimed, Open Doors and truly Open Hearts. We need you to hear God’s call for inclusion and help increase the understanding of others that we may truly be welcoming to ALL.
In God’s Peace,
Cynthia J. Smith