Dear Council of Bishops,
As we read the statement released by the Council of Bishops urging a complaint be brought against Bishop Talbert for officiating Bobby’s and my Holy Ceremony, we are once again reminded that those who are against the love between gay people refuse to acknowledge our humanity. In the statement, we are referred to as “a same-gender couple.”
Bishops, we want you to know that we have names; Bobby and Joe.
And we are not just an any same-gender couple.
We are two men who fell in love 12 years ago, after a chance meeting at Pensacola Beach, Florida.
We are two men who have struggled to find a place to land in our search for a spiritual home, and who found such a place at Discovery United Methodist Church.
We are two men whose love grew to the point that we felt marriage would best suit our current life.
We are two men who asked Bishop Wallace-Padgett, through an email, to re-think her position and to bless our relationship, but did not receive such a blessing.
We are two men whose own clergy was told not to offer us spiritual counseling and not to attend our wedding.
We are two men who are loved by the people at Discovery United Methodist Church, but are pushed aside by the United Methodist Church.
We are two men who are part of a family joined by this marriage, with in-laws and children and step-children and a grandson and a dog.
And we are two men who feel that their relationship has been blessed by God and that this blessing has been enhanced by our public wedding and by Bishop Talbert’s participation in our ceremony.
We are glad that you referenced our Theological Task, as put forth in our Book of Discipline. Our Reconciling Group at Discovery UMC, studied our Theological Task a couple of years ago. The phrase “Our task is to articulate a vision in a way that will draw us together as a people in Mission…” was important in our discussion at that time.
But now we see that you only want to draw together those who are like you; heterosexual. “Cast the gays aside and our church of those like us might flourish,” you may be thinking.
But we (Bobby and Joe, the same gender couple) want to draw all of God’s children together. We believe in the sacred worth of all humanity, not just the straight ones. Even if our church should diminish in size somewhat in doing so, if that is the cost of being more like Jesus, is it not worth it?
We understand why your statements do not provide our names or any information about us. You do not want others to know that Bobby and I are real people, whose lives are as dull and uninteresting as any other married couple. We are just regular people. We just happen to be gay.
Bobby Prince and Joe Openshaw