Bishop Mark Webb
Upper New York Annual Conference
324 University Ave. Third Floor
Syracuse, NY 13210
Dear Bishop Webb,
I am writing to you in support of the Rev. Steve Heiss of Tabernacle United Methodist Church in Binghamton.
In your first months as a bishop you find yourself in a difficult situation not of your own making. Rev. Heiss publicly acknowledged he performed same-sex marriages, which is against the Book of Discipline. And a United Methodist clergy filed a complaint.
I believe that there are certain turning points in organizations’ histories – that decisions made at key times can signal to their members and to the world, that a new path is being taken and that old, limiting and destructive ways are left behind.
I also believe the United Methodist Church is just such an institution and that we are living in a time where its members and leaders have an opportunity to do just that, by becoming a fully inclusive family, one that does not discriminate against the LGBT community.
Two members of my church, University United Methodist, had to be married outside, on the sidewalk last week, because the denomination says they are not worthy to have their legally recognized union celebrated before God in God’s house. I salute them for wanting to be married in a ceremony as close to the church they love as possible, even though the church, as an institution, tells them they don’t fully belong. When they are ready to renew their vows, I hope they will be able to do just that inside the sanctuary with a United Methodist clergy officiating.
I pray for all three of you who are meeting Sept. 20 and for a just resolution of this case with Rev. Heiss, one that indicates that we are all children of God and are, therefore, full members of God’s church.