Covenant Service to be held in Houston
- July 31, 1999: For Immediate Release
The Reverend Marilyn Meeker-Williams and the Reverend Troy Plummer
Bering Memorial United Methodist Church, 1440 Harold St., Houston, TX 77006
Phone: (713) 526-1017
Linda Enger, Eleanora Piombino to Exchange Vows Outside Bering Memorial
United Methodist Church
Houston, TX: On Friday, August 27, at 7:30 PM, Linda E. Enger and Eleanora
N. Piombino of Houston will be united by the Reverend Troy Plummer in the
street in front of Bering Memorial United Methodist Church (UMC) in Houston.
The Reverend Marilyn Meeker-Williams and the Reverend Dr. Bruce Felker will
serve Holy Communion in the church following the ceremony. The Rev. Plummer
is an ordained Orthodox Catholic priest and an employee of Bering Memorial
The United Methodist Church has declared in its Social Principles that
ceremonies that celebrate "homosexual unions" shall not be conducted by its
clergy or held in its churches. In August 1998 the denominations Judicial
Council ruled that this statement has the effect of church law.
Supportive United Methodist clergy and laity who wish to stand with Marilyn
Meeker-Williams on the steps of the church on August 27 as witnesses to this
holy event, are asked to contact her as soon as possible in order to make
arrangements. (See contact information above.)
When the founder of Methodism, John Wesley, an Anglican priest, was
forbidden to use the pulpits of Anglican churches, he took to the streets,
fields, and churchyards in Great Britain and boldly preached the Gospel.
Likewise, Enger and Piombino, forbidden to use the sanctuary of their
church, will take to the streets to celebrate their longstanding committed
relationship to each other.
Enger and Piombino will celebrate their 25-year-relationship with an
exchange of vows and a celebration with their friends and family. They are
active members of Bering Memorial UMC, where Enger is lay leader.
In February of this year, senior pastor Marilyn Meeker-Williams announced
her decision not to conduct any services of marriage until she could conduct
them all. Bering Memorial UMC will hold no weddings in the sanctuary as
long as the UMC prohibits clergy from officiating at "homosexual unions."
The ritual used in the service for Enger and Piombino will be made
available to all couples who seek a wedding service at Bering Memorial.
The statement forbidding "homosexual unions" added to the Social Principles
at the UM General Conference in 1996 set off a series of protests. Several
clergy and congregations have witnessed against what they consider an
unconscionable action. They say the declaration has gone against the
denomination's affirmation that lesbian and gay people are persons of sacred
worth and has also prevented pastors from extending all of the ministries
of the church to all of its members.
The first event that drew national attention was in September 1997 when
the Reverend Jimmy Creech officiated at a covenant service for two women at
First United Methodist Church in Omaha, NE. A trial court did not convict
him of disobedience to church law. Presently he is being investigated by
church officials concerning his participation in another holy union that
happened in April. Shortly after the Judicial Council ruling, the Reverend
Greg Dell celebrated a service for two men at Broadway United Methodist
Church in Chicago. He has been suspended until he signs a statement that he
will do no more ceremonies or church law changes. In August, a higher
church court will hear his appeal of both the conviction and the sentence.
In January 1999, over 100 clergy, mostly United Methodist and some "in
absentia," participated in a service of Holy Union for Ellie Charleton and
Jeanne Barnett at the Sacramento Convention Center in California. The
church is now conducting an investigation of the "Sacramento 68."