Dear Bishop Webb,
We are both lifelong United Methodists, young adults who have worked for the United Methodist Church throughout our careers so far. We have both committed our lives to the Church’s work of social justice and service. We have both been blessed to know some very gifted, loving pastors who have had tremendous impacts on our lives. Unfortunately, even in our relatively short careers so far, we have both also worked with pastors and District Superintendents who have been not just ineffective and dysfunctional, but who have also committed chargeable offenses that have had nothing to do with homosexuality. These chargeable offenses have included:
· Sexual Harassment
Each and every one of these pastors and District Superintendents is still ordained and still serving the Church. Each of them has benefitted from District Superintendents and Bishops who have been willing to look the other way, give second and third chances, show mercy and grace, and forgive the offending person.
You now have before you a case involving another kind of chargeable offense. We ask that you consider what kind of denomination we have become, when clergy who have knowingly harmed others are able to continue to serve, while a pastor who presides over a same-sex marriage faces the end of his career. Please know that we join you in considering this situation; indeed, as young adults who have both considered ordained ministry, and as the parents of a 9-month-old son, we have spent a great deal of time considering what kind of denomination we are becoming.
If, after your month of reflection, you decide that you must punish Rev. Heiss, we ask that you and your fellow leaders in our denomination follow the same standard when it comes to the next pastor or District Superintendent who has committed a chargeable offense of any kind.
May God bless you and guide you during your time of prayer and discernment.
Andrew and Mary Gladstone-Highland