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  • UMAffirmation
    Dec 16, 2012

      Fall 2012 Judicial Council roundup

      by United Methodist News Service

      By Neill Caldwell*

      (There’s quite a bit of information in the article.  I’ve deleted a lot from the front it.)

      Issues related to homosexuality

      Several of the items before the council dealt with related to homosexuality. The denomination’s official position is that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. The church forbids the ordination of self-avowed practicing gays and lesbians, and it forbids the performance of same-gender union services in its sanctuaries and by its clergy. The church also holds that all people are of sacred worth.




      Western Jurisdiction group to hold vigils

      SANTA MONICA, Calif. (UMNS) — United Methodist churches throughout the Western Jurisdiction are scheduling prayer vigils during the fall meeting of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, Nov. 4-9. The gatherings will pray that the bishops will embrace the vision of “Biblical Obedience,” the Western Jurisdiction’s movement against The United Methodist Church’s teaching on homosexuality. The Church in Ocean Park, a United Methodist congregation in Santa Monica, Calif., has scheduled one of the vigils at noon Sunday, Nov. 4. The Book of Discipline, the denomination’s law book, says the practice of homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching.” The book prohibits United Methodist churches from hosting and clergy from officiating at “ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions.” 



      What the Presidential Election Should Teach the UMC

      by Eric Folkerth

      November 9, 2012

      It's a buzz word. It's a concept.

      The question is asked: "In every place where we do ministry, what does the mission field look like?"

      It's a very very good question, and I'm glad we're asking it. Demographics, we are learning, matter to church growth. In fact, seen from one perspective, demographics are destiny when it comes to church growth.

      So it is that many of us United Methodist pastors/congregations are now asked:

      "Who are the people your church is trying to reach?"

      "Who are the people who would miss you if you were not around?"

      "What demographic trends are changing in your neighborhoods?"




      Church marking 20 years of welcoming lesbian, gay, transgender parishioners

      By Juan Castillo

      American-Statesman Staff

      Trinity United Methodist Church of Austin is commemorating its 20th year of welcoming people of all sexual orientations and gender identities with an event Friday it is billing as a “20th Anniversary Gay-la.”

      The Methodist Book of Discipline, which contains church doctrine, prohibits the ordination of self-avowed homosexuals and forbids ministers from conducting gay marriage ceremonies or blessing same-sex unions. In May, the United Methodist Church’s general assembly determined that the Book of Discipline would continue to call the practice of homosexuality incompatible with Christian teaching.




      Comments by Rev. David Weekley for the Virtual Ritual for LGBTQAI Justice by members of the National Religious Leaders Roundtable of  The Gay and Lesbian Task Force/ November 8, 2012

      Jeremiah 8: 21-23: “The wounds of my people wound me too. Is there no balm in Gilead? Who will turn my head into a fountain and my eyes into a spring of tears so that

      I may weep all day, all night for the wounded out of my people?”

      Sven Lindqvist: Swedish Historian and author of, Exterminate all the Brutes, a historical analysis of the Holocaust.   “It is not knowledge we lack. What is missing is the courage to understand what we know and to draw conclusions.”

      Both quotes are from the Introduction to M. Shawn Copeland’s, Enfleshing Freedom: body, race, and being

      When I first heard about this virtual post-election ritual I had no idea what to expect. This is because I had no idea what I would experience on November 6. My greatest hopes were for the re-election of the first President publically committed to marriage equality and full civil rights for our community, and at least one victory in one state where marriage equality was on the ballot. What happened truly exceeded my hopes. Today I believe we celebrate and move into a new era in the effort to achieve full equality for transgender, gay, lesbian, bisexual, intersex, and queer-identified people. I believe this not only because of what happened on Election Day, but HOW it happened. Preceding this Election Day 32 states had voted on the definition of marriage, restricting it to heterosexual unions. Now, three states, Maine, Maryland, and Washington have voted BY POPULAR BALLOT, to support marriage equality; and a fourth state, Minnesota, refused to write its same-sex marriage ban into the state constitution. This is the first time ever that marriage equality has passed in any state by ballot! In addition, New Hampshire is the first state to elect all women as its governor, senators, and congressional representatives. And in Wisconsin, Tammy Baldwin is elected as the first openly lesbian senator. Yes, we still have much work to do, and we know our nation remains polarized around many issues. Still, the results of this election bring hope to me as an American, as a transgender man, as a United Methodist Clergy, as a person of faith, and as a human being, that the tide has turned, and that the expansion of marriage equality and the election of a president who supports justice and equality for all LGBTQ people will not only inspire other states to follow, but encourage Congress to move toward full protection for all LGBTQ citizens.

      As a Christian this election is both inspiring and affirming for me. When people look at me too often they see a white, male protestant “clergy-man” and identify me as “enemy” I understand this, because traditionally it has been that same population that is most outspoken and openly hostile towards our community. For years I and other progressive Christians have grieved this perception and longed for the day when the gospel was no longer twisted and distorted to represent and enforce a conservative and unjust political agenda. As I said, I know we have a long way to go- but the tide has turned. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism declared there is no holiness but social holiness. He dedicated his life to acting on behalf of those who were marginalized and deprived of justice in his lifetime. He did this because he believed this is what it means to follow Jesus as a disciple. He did this because of his faith in a God who loves all people, and who passionately desires just and right relationships. As a United Methodist I follow Wesley in this spiritual tradition, and in his understanding of the gospel as GOOD news of freedom, inclusion and justice for all people.

      This election, some of the wounds of our people have been recognized and addressed. Perhaps the fountain of tears may become a fountain of joy as we continue living and working together. I believe, as Sven Linqvist stated in his commentary on the Holocaust, “It is not knowledge that we lack. What is missing is the courage to understand what we know and to draw conclusions.”

      My hope and prayer today is that this Election has shown that as individuals and as a nation we do have the courage to understand what we know, to draw conclusions, and to act with justice.      



      Why Splitting the UMC Is a Bad Idea

      by Craig L. Adams

      November 13, 2012

      Back on October 19th the United Methodist Reporter ran an article by Dr. Thomas Glenn "Jack" Jackson III, E. Stanley Jones Assistant Professor of Evangelism, Mission, and Global Methodism at Claremont School of Theology entitled Breaking up is hard, but right thing for the UMC.

      It came out at the same time I was having major computer (and some health) difficulties (see: Personal Update 10/30/12), so I did not comment on the article here.

      I did post John Wesley’s comments on schism — that was a comment of sorts.




      Confessing and Reconciling: One Body Through the Cross

      by Bishop Kenneth Carter

      November 15, 2012

      Freshman Bishop Kenneth Carter (second from right) preached at the fall session of the Council of Bishops. With him in this photo at this year's consecration are (l to r) Bishops Young Jin Ho, Deborah Padgett-Wallace, William McAlilly, and Jonathan Holston

      When I was being interviewed for this possibility, and when I was consecrated as a bishop and when I was installed -- and it does all seem to be a blur -- I continued to hear a few recurring phrases that are within our Books of Discipline and Worship.

      A bishop is called to guard the faith, to seek the unity and to exercise the discipline of the whole Church.”

      In one moment along the way I was asked, in front of a large group of committed, invested, diverse, faithful and, yes, exhausted Christian people,




      Is the UMC a Big Tent or a Circus?

      by Patrick Scriven

      November 18, 2012

      During its 2012 session, the Pacific Northwest Conference voted overwhelmingly to support the marriage equality bill that was before voters in Washington state on election day. Bishop Grant J. Hagiya embodied the will of the conference by offering his voice to the Washington United for Marriage campaign; speaking with clarity about the importance of religious freedom. With the approval of Referendum 74, United Methodist clergy and congregations have two distinct questions to wrestle with.




      Why Gays Should Be Glad Church Isn’t Safe

      by Wes Magruder

      December 11, 2012

      [Editor’s note:  for dissenting opinions, keep reading.  On a personal note:  In 2001 I was almost kicked out of my church home of 17 years because of my sexual orientation.  Even spaces perceived as safe sometimes aren’t.  Things took the better part of a year to calm down.  I’ve now been at this church for 28 years.]

      I received an email once which went something like this:

      Hi, my partner and I are trying to find a church home. We haven’t been in years, but feel the need to reconnect with a faith community. We’ve thought about visiting your church, but I don’t know what your congregation would think about having a gay couple attend service. We aren’t looking to cause problems, but we also don’t want to be rejected. Do you believe it would be safe for us to visit this Sunday?

      As a United Methodist pastor, I tried my best to make church a safe place for everyone. To ensure the safety of children and young people, we implemented programs like Safe Sanctuaries and Ministry Safe. Boards of Trustees worked hard to ensure that the facilities were kept accessible for the elderly and disabled.




      December 11, 2012

      A response to Rev. Wes Magruder: Why we need safe churches

      - by Mary Ann Kaiser -

      Yesterday, Wes Magruder wrote a lovely piece on LGBTQ people and our relationship to the church entitled “Why gays should be glad church isn’t safe.” His heartfelt and honest words illuminated the difficulty a pastor has in protecting her or his congregants. He shared the struggle of responding to a gay couple who asked if his church would be a safe place for them to visit. The reality, he reminded us, is that there is really no such thing as a completely safe space in church. The beauty of the church, in fact, is partly that we are all diverse people made of various ideas, experiences, theologies, and opinions. He even spoke to the truth that “church committees are full of folks who are racist, sexist, homophobic, and xenophobic.” After highlighting the reality that there really is no way to promise anyone they will always feel truly safe and accepted in a church space, or any space for that matter, Magruder shared some beautiful words about what it means to struggle in a community and find love in the midst of tension.




      December 12, 2012

      One "Gay" Who Grieves That Church Isn't Safe: A Response to Dr. Magruder

      - by Leland G. Spencer IV -

      Two days ago, the Rev. Dr. Wes Magruder wrote a post to which I had an initially negative reaction. Upon reading the comments and discussing it on Facebook with a friend, my reaction developed more nuance, and I decided instead of commenting, that I wanted to write a post in response.

      Dr. Magruder suggests that "gays" should "be glad church isn't safe." In response to a gay couple's query about whether they would be safe at the church he was pastoring, Dr. Magruder confesses that he had never "thought about how to make my church safe for gays and lesbians," though he's confident that "nobody would attack them physically, or throw stones." Nonetheless, church folk can be judgmental. "I can't make the church safe for anyone. Churches are filled with people who struggle to love, accept others, and live the Golden Rule."


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