in what seems to be the largest 'coming out' action ever. 75 methodist ministers are coming out in a letter to the church leaders discerning through the sexuality debate within the umc. in an article by gay.com:
The letter released Tuesday was sent a week before the church's Judicial Council is scheduled to meet near Kansas City. Signatories hope to influence how the church interprets policy on sexual orientation.
Outing themselves with this letter, the ministers risk being defrocked, as happened to the Rev. Irene "Beth" Stroud less than a year ago. The United Methodist Church took away her right to be a minister when it ruled in October that she had violated the denomination's ban on "self-avowed, practicing homosexual" clergy.
there are no actual pastoral names cited on the article or given with quotes, it does go on to speak of the beth stroud case. it shares a longer quote on how someone has seen the power of the church in ways of empire (my word) to hurt or keep people down. it would seem only standard thinking that there would be some protest before judicial council meets back up next week. i'd like to see the full content of this letter before i give my view on this being positive or negative actions within the church. article goes on:
The signatures were collected by the Reconciling Ministries Network, a grassroots organization that works to enable full participation of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities in the life of the United Methodist Church.
The letter reminds the church that its current policy of homophobia hurts not just gay clergy; it is hurting the church itself.
no surprise about the reconciling ministries being behind the letter. however, i checked their website and at the moment there wasn't a mention or posting of this letter. they do however mention some "witnessing" at the council meetings in kansas next wednesday.
i'd be surprised to find out things changing next week as far as the legislation. i don't see doctrine being changed over in the jc. that should be pushed to general conference. there might be a 2nd look at 1032 (i believe that is the membership decision, i get them confused at times). so it makes me wonder what the letter coming out now accomplishes? it only puts people in a spot of loosing their calling.
as i dwell on it i can see two motivations. 1. an act of protest, almost in a childish fight, to throw it in the face of the council saying "we're here, now whatcha going to do about it." 2. tiredness, a tiredness of hiding and being subversive in language to not be who one feels they are. the only recourse they can see is to be completely honest and thus face circumstances as they are now. i honestly hope that they is a whole lot more of #2 in the letter than there is #1.
so how does the church respond? with 75 clergy (assuming they are all clergy, remember no names were cited in the article) that is probably a drop in the bucket of statistical numbers. the church can proceed with legal proceedings much like they did with rev. stroud. the church will go on. but statistical numbers don't touch the lives of people in ministry and that these folks might very well be much more gifted as ministers than the counter parts they'd be replaced with after a defrocking.
i'd hope that we take a open heart approach. one in which we try to listen. put aside our concepts and notions for a second to just hear. because possibly as a church we would actually hear God within the people who are feeling tired because they are persecuted or held down to some degree. then we could respond as Christ would, not as a structural institution that we are.
unfortunately i fear. this might just lead to more banter, doctrinal thesis in blog comments and messageboards on why it's a sin and why it's not, name calling and everything that Christ was not.
:: tip to todd ::