Friday, September 20, 2013

letter 82

Bishop Mark Webb                                                                                                                                                                                    324 University Ave, 3rd Floor                                                                                                                                                            Syracuse, NY 13210                                                                                                                                           

Dear Bishop Webb,

                  First and foremost, I want you to know that I’ve been keeping you in prayer during this time of discernment.  I feel as you have been put in a no-win situation.  Just a little over a year ago, I was so excited to be an alternate delegate to the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference.  I was pleased to meet you and the other prospective Bishop candidates.  Most of the women candidates used the quote from the Book of Esther about being here “for just such as time as this.”  I felt and still feel that you were called to be our Bishop for just such a time as this.  I’ve seen your gifts and graces.  I appreciated your honesty in our interviews.  However, I feel torn because charges have been brought upon Rev. Steve Heiss for presiding at his own child’s wedding.  John Wesley held three main principles: do no harm, do good and attend all the ordinances of God.  I do my best to follow these every day, as do you. In our Ordination vows we agreed to provide pastoral care without reservation and that all people are of sacred worth.  In our Baptismal vows, we agreed to “oppose evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.” Today, I see a great injustice mandated by our beloved denomination.

                  In 2004, I attended General Conference and one of the most meaningful worship services was where we repented for what the United Methodist Church and its predecessor denominations did to keep African Americans out of our churches.  Then in 2008, I returned to General Conference and we repented of how we treated the African Americans who remained in our churches.  Last year, we once again arrived at General Conference.  Once again, we repented of a sin that our denomination perpetuated, including the genocide of Native Americans (especially in light of the Sand Creek Massacre). As we spoke the words in the Act of Repentance and as I looked out to the crowd wearing rainbow stoles in the stands, it struck me that I could say these same words to our gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, queer, and inquiring brothers and sisters.  I wondered, would my sons one day come to General Conference to repent of the sins of our denomination, this time, not wrongdoings towards a specific ethnic group but against the LGBTQI community.

                  Bishop Webb, I truly feel that you were called for just such a time as this.  I felt affirmed at your installation when you placed The Book of Discipline beneath the Bible.  Retired Bishop Talbot has called us to Biblical Obedience.  Bishop Carcaño reminds us that the Social Principles (including Paragraph 161F) are not church law.  I wonder, will you have the courage to be a prophetic voice in the face of great adversity?  Must we continue to waste hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars on church trials when we should be focusing on loving our neighbors, making disciples of Jesus Christ and looking out for the last, the least and the lost?

Your Sister in Christ,

Rev. Megan Stowe

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