Dear Clergy Colleagues,
From Observation to Opportunity
I want to remind us that whatever our personal beliefs, I hope we will be sensitive to the people who believe differently than we do. Please think “respond, not react.” Take particular care with messages you may send out on social media because those messages will define you not only in your current congregation but also in the future. Using language that is consistent with the fruits of the Spirit, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5: 22-23) is a good measure of appropriate response.
From Dilemma to Direction
Our United Methodist Church also declares that all persons, gay and straight, are persons of “sacred worth” and so our pastors and churches are mandated to be in ministry “to and with” all persons. We are especially to advocate for equal civil rights for all persons. Same gender couples who are legally married should be respected by all of us. If they are members of our churches, they should be listed that way on our membership records. Likewise, the children of same gender couples are eligible for baptism by our pastors in our churches; baptism focuses upon the children and upon God’s grace.
The dilemma for many United Methodist pastors is how to be in ministry “to and with” gay and lesbian persons from their congregations who will be married in a service conducted by another pastor in another denomination in another church. The Discipline is silent on this matter, and practices vary across the church. I have every confidence in each of you to be faithful to your vows as a pastor in covenant with The United Methodist Church.
From Confusion to Conversation
In the midst of grief over the violence at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, storms and floods in Texas, Supreme Court decisions, preparation for General Conference and more, I hope you will do two things: 1) get some rest and renewal this summer. God is in charge of the universe, and the sun will rise tomorrow; 2) keep your heart, mind and energies focused on the mission of the church, “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
Thank you for your ministry. God bless you all.
|5215 Main Street Houston, TX 77002 Phone: 713-521-9383 Toll Free: 877-774-2700|