Methodist Group Vows to Support Lesbian and Gay Couples

If you know my past, then you know that I was a lay preacher/pastor within the United Methodist Church. Although, I haven’t been engaged in that denomination for probably a dozen years now. But it still brought a real smile to my face to see a blog post today concerning this new Methodist group which is supporting gay and lesbian couples.

We refuse to discriminate against any of God’s children and pledge to make marriage equality a lived reality within the New York Annual Conference, regardless of sexual orientation or gender expression,” the group declared in statement called “A Covenant of Conscience” and signed by 164 clergy members, 732 lay people and six entire congregations. In all, 74 congregations within the New York Annual Conference (NYAC) are represented among the signers. NYAC is the regional church body representing United Methodist congregations from Long Island to the Catskills and in southern Connecticut.

Individual clergy are also speaking out. “My ordination vows require me to minister to all people in my congregation,” said Rev. Sara Lamar-Sterling, the minister at First and Summerfield United Methodist Church in New Haven, Conn. “This is about pastoral care, about welcoming all people, but especially the marginalized and the oppressed, like Jesus did.”

At least in my memory, one of the first UMC clergy to support gay and lesbian relationships was the Rev Jimmy Creech, who was removed from his position after performing a marriage for two women in his congregation. Jimmy, a straight man with the support of his wife was so courageous, and he touched my life in a very big way. But this new development is truly amazing, and I really don’t have words to express how exciting it is to see so many stand up and speak out for what they feel is truly right in the eyes of God.

via Methodist Group Vows to Support Lesbian and Gay Couples | GLAAD.

Gay Marriage: Failing Both Sides?

The subject line of this blog entry caught my attention and I dug into what is a very good read! I’ve been neglecting to post here on Queer Look at the Bible, so I thought the religious quality to this post and ideas lent itself to QLATB nicely.

First, I really appreciate Eugene’s honesty and what comes across as his authentic faith journey surrounding the issue of Marriage Equality. On the one hand, I wish there were more ministers willing to risk, as Eugene is, and share what their process of discernment on this issue is. but it is plain why that isn’t/won’t happen. Look at the criticism and hatred Eugene receives from other so-called Christians.

One reason I started Queer Look at the Bible, was because I have experienced feeling called to ministry in a very big way. However, I left active ministry ( I was only a lay minister and preacher) and decided against seminary, when I realized that I felt like an imposter. I was asked one Sunday to give the sermon at a small church north of Pittsburgh. After sitting through the Sunday School and talking to the church members, it became very clear, that if they had known I was gay, I never would have been invited. I left feeling “dirty” and dishonest, even though I said or did nothing dishonest at all! But I realized that I didn’t want to fight from the inside like that. There were other ways to minister than struggle to work within a denomination that really didn’t want me, even though my home congregation loved, supported and wanted me to continue.

It isn’t God that’s the problem, but rather some of God’s flock of followers. That’s what I came to understand, and what Eugene has come to experience as well.

My favorite biblical character, or at least one of them, is Saul, who was renamed Paul. Here was this guy, a devote and intense Jew, running around persecuting the early Christians! Until one day, where he has a conversion experience! Everything as he knew it… everything, changed for him that day.

Imagine what it was like for everyone around him, who had known him forever, and for those for whom his reputation as a persecutor preceeded him. What do you think his old rabbi buddies would have said to him? What would have been the emails he received (if email had existed then)? Would he have been called a coward, and a bad example of a Jew?

I tend to think that conversion experiences still happen, and little by little woman and men come to see a bigger picture set before them by a God. All that they thought they know about righteous living can get turned on its head. and those, not really open to god, who wish to blindly cling to whatever seems to rationalize everything for them will get pretty angry.

Eugene started his post talking about how, announced that they will release the names of petitioners. He wonders if this will backfire. In other places where this has been done, it hasn’t backfired. It has brought the bigotry out into the light. For example, in Arkansas, when this was done, it was learned that many people had been mislead about what they were signing.

My suggestion to you, Eugene, is to just keep following your path, trying to sort out how to “love God and love People.”

gay marriage: failing both sides? « eugene cho’s blog.