- by Northern Illinois Conference Reconciling Task Force -
How much I must criticize you, my Church, and yet how much I love you! You have made me suffer more than anyone, and yet I owe more to you than anyone. I should like to see you destroyed, and yet I need your presence. You have given me much scandal, and yet you alone have made me understand holiness. Never in the world have I seen anything more compromised, more false, yet never have I touched anything more pure, more generous, or more beautiful. Countless times I have felt like leaving you, my Church; and yet every night I have prayed that I might die in your warm loving arms......
~ Carlo Caretto, of the Little Brothers of Jesus
Dear Bishop Dyck,
We’re angry. And we’re hurt.
Many of us looked in the mirror after we read the Council of Bishops’ statement and asked, “again?”
Many of us looked at ourselves and said “the Council of Bishops does not point to God’s love for you.” We who are LGBTQ and allies must remind ourselves that God loves us, because our leaders do not.
And: we are angry and hurt because again on Sunday morning, many of us will look into the faces of our congregations and need to reassure them that they are loved by God. We will be faced with people asking “what’s wrong with the United Methodist Church?” and we will share our grief.
A Task Force? Holy Conversations? We know how this goes. We know them only to be delaying tactics that do real harm to real people. We witnessed this at General Conference 2012 and enough is enough.
Bishop: please dissent.
We are hungry to hear a prophetic word from you.
We are hungry to hear a leader speak to the truth that conflict among the faithful is the crucible of growth; that false unity is death.
We are hungry to hear that you, our Bishop, hears above the “rule of law” and the hypocrisy of “covenant” that Jesus took on power in an argument about the law of the Sabbath in Matthew 12 when he said, “If you had known what this means, I want mercy and not sacrifice, you wouldn’t have condemned the innocent.”
We are hungry to hear that you, our Bishop, put the heart of God’s love – as revealed in the Bible; the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus; and the continuing power of the Holy Spirit – ahead of an inconsistent Book of Discipline.
We are hungry to hear that you, our Bishop, have listened deeply to the harm done by a few passages in a Book of Discipline that no longer reflects the “three simple rules” of our founder John Wesley.
We are hungry to hear that you, our Bishop, can offer a word of hope as Bishop Talbert heads to his home Western Jurisdiction which is already on record in support of his loving and just ministry.
We are hungry to hear that you, our Bishop, intend to support us and stand in solidarity with us as we recommit ourselves to being in ministry with ALL of God’s people; that you will support us and stand in solidarity with us when we celebrate the marriage equality of our state of Illinois; that you will support us and stand in solidarity with us as we officiate in the love of two people in our sanctuaries, with the communities of faith we are called to serve.
Two-hundred thirty of our Northern Illinois Conference clergy have committed themselves to marriage equality. Many of us have officiated ceremonies for same-gender-loving couples, and we will continue to do so. We will not step back, Bishop, and we ask you to step forward with us. We want to hear your statement of celebration for our state’s marriage equality and your willingness to live, with us, in the tension between church and society.
As Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “here we are…with a religious community largely adjusted to the status quo, standing as a tail-light behind other community agencies rather than a headlight leading…to higher levels of justice.”
Please, Bishop: be a headlight.
Rev. Gregory D. Gross
Rev. Carol Hill
Rev. Alka Lyall
Rev. Lois McCullen Parr
Rev. Luis F. Reyes
Rev. Marti Scott
On behalf of the Northern Illinois Conference Reconciling Task Force