Bishop Mark Webb
324 University Avenue, 3rd Floor
Syracuse, NY 13210
Dear Bishop Webb:
I am writing you concerning the United Methodist Church’s current stance on same-sex marriage, in particular within a church building with an ordained UMC minister officiating.
I grew up in the Baptist church and, during my college years, was strongly influenced by the Quaker influence at Swarthmore. After graduation, when I moved to Schenectady I began attending the First Methodist Church and soon became a member of the Young Adult Group. My husband and I, whom I met at the church, joined 56 years ago. It was there that we raised our children, it was there that we were active participants in the life of the church, and it was because of its influences that we matured spiritually. Though now alone, I still love the church, much of what it stands for, am involved in many of its programs, and “find strength and help in time of need.” Today, because of my church associations,, I have many church friends for whom I feel great affection, regardless of their sexual orientation.
As you know, FUMC is a Reconciling Ministries Congregation, but even before that status was acknowledged, gays and lesbians were welcomed into the church by me as well as others. That acknowledgement influenced my family as well as me. My two daughters, one in California and one in Connecticut, have lesbian friends and colleagues who married their loved ones once same-sex marriage became legal in those states, and they cherish these friends. I think of two of my church friends who were able to marry in New York State when same-sex marriages became legal. Certainly they are committed to each other.
All the above is just a bit of background. What is important to me right now is the UMC’s position on supporting the needs of the LGBT community. In increasing numbers our American society is beginning to accept and understand that love can exist between two men and between two women, just as between a man and a woman. Indeed, why does it matter? Why should it matter to you or me or the church? We are all children of God, all loved by God, regardless of ability, vocation, national origin, sexual orientation and so on. It just doesn’t matter. I am dismayed that the church is not the leader in expressing this love, this compassion, this understanding, of people who are “different” from the norm. Instead, it’s the states and individuals that accept, care, understand, while our church just seems to say “Well, it’s ok for them, but not for us.” The UMC should be in the forefront of social justice, not following behind. Let us follow the Love that Jesus preached to his followers. Let’s care about all people and accept them into the full fellowship of the church. Let them be married in the church – as my husband and I were - married by an ordained pastor in the UMC, let them raise their children without scorn or approbation from others. Let us be a full community of love!
Nancy L. Walden