Letter to the Council of Bishops Updated and a Celebration!

In response to the recent trial and conviction of a UM clergy for performing a same gender wedding for his son, College Hill United Methodist Church considered the letter below to be forwarded to the Council of Bishops.

We do not believe trials, guilty verdicts, and sentencing belong in a community of faith, especially when the community is not of one mind regarding the inclusion of our LGBT friends, family, and colleagues. There is once again much talk about coming to the table for holy conferencing, conversation, discernment, and prayer in hopes of finding resolution.

Below is a copy of the letter. Thank you College Hill for being who you are, your wisdom, boldness, grace, and love inspires me on a daily basis.

Update December 3, 2013 – I am overjoyed to report the Annual Church Conference of College Hill United Methodist Church in Wichita voted unanimously to send the letter below to our United Methodist Council of Bishops. The letter was mailed today along with over 150 signatures attached.

Peace and Light for Your Journey
Pastor Kent

An Open Letter to Our Bishops of The United Methodist Church

You have heard it said, “The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching.” [i] But I say to you, “All persons are individuals of sacred worth, created in the image of God and that God’s grace is available to all.”[ii]

You have heard it said, “Self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.”[iii] You have also heard it said, “Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches.”[iv]

But I say to you, “We live together in Christian community, welcoming, forgiving, and loving one another, as Christ loved and accepted us.”[v] I say to you, “Churches and families do not reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends, for we are committed to be in ministry for and with all persons!”[vi]

As illustrated above by the language of our own UM Book of Discipline, we at College Hill United Methodist Church believe The United Methodist Book of Discipline is far from clear on our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer colleagues, friends, and family. It is a conflicted document that makes a theological claim of grace and inclusion and a political statement of negative restrictions and exclusion.

We implore our Bishops to call for a moratorium on all church charges and trials, such as the recent proceeding regarding Rev. Frank Schaefer, until our own book of doctrine, rule, and law is clear, consistent, and concise on how the clergy, lay, and church are to be in ministry for and with our LGBTQ colleagues, friends, and family.

We believe this is a significant reason we are currently losing members of the UM Church as well as why many will not consider joining our increasingly declining denomination. We as a United Methodist Church here at College Hill believe it is time! It is time to remove this unjust and harmful language from our Discipline in 2016. It is time to move beyond this conflicted letter of law and side with grace and love and justice for ALL, where All Means All! Please stop the charges, the trials, the harm, hurt, and rejecting of the children of God. Please.

Living and Serving in Love with Christ,
College Hill United Methodist Church
2930 E First Street North

Wichita, KS 67214

1 The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church 2012, The United Methodist Publishing House Nashville, Tennessee. Pg.111 Para. 161F.

2 The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church 2012, The United Methodist Publishing House Nashville, Tennessee. Pg.111 Para. 161F.

3 The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church 2012, The United Methodist Publishing House Nashville, Tennessee.

Pg. 220 Para. 304.3

4 The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church 2012, The United Methodist Publishing House Nashville, Tennessee.

Pg. 270 Para. 341.6

5 The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church 2012, The United Methodist Publishing House Nashville, Tennessee. Pg.111 Para. 161F

6The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church 2012, The United Methodist Publishing House Nashville, Tennessee. Pg.111 Para. 161F

Living and Serving in Love with Christ,
College Hill United Methodist Church
2930 E First Street North
Wichita, KS 67214

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