December 20, 2013
Dear Bishop Huie,
Advent greetings to you from the Breaking the Silence family. As we journey through this season of watching and waiting for our Savior, we ask for your pastoral leadership.
This fall, we saw the church put on trial a pastor who performed a marriage for his own son, who is gay. Even more unsettling to us, we saw the Council of Bishops issue a formalstatement calling for still another church trial – this one for one of the Council’s own, Bishop Melvin Talbert. The Council declared that Bishop Talbert violated church law by performing a wedding for a gay couple, and by interfering with the ministry of the resident bishop in the conference where the wedding was celebrated.
We no longer know what to say. You have heard us crying for justice for faithful United Methodists who are, or who love, gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people. You have watched as General Conference 2008 adopted our resolution for a Constitutional amendment making clear that “All means all.” You have watched your own conference defeat that amendment.
We have run out of statements and resolutions. Instead, we have questions. We know that John Wesley called on Christians to do no harm, do good, and keep close to God. We know that Christ called us to love our neighbors as ourselves. We know that our baptismal vows call us to resist evil, injustice, and oppression, in whatever forms we find them. But we don’t know how to reconcile these foundational beliefs with the Council of Bishop’s statement. So we are left with questions. We respectfully ask your guidance.
Please help us answer the questions we hear from our members – the questions we, too, are asking.
- How does the Council of Bishops’ call for another trial do good for this broken body of the United Methodist Church, and for our witness to the world? How does another trial further our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world?
- How does the Council of Bishops’ call for another trial do no harm – to gay persons, their families, the pastors who serve them? How does it do no harm to the unchurched who are seeking a place to experience the love and grace of God but see instead a denomination putting its own on trial after trial?
- How does the Council of Bishops’ call for another trial keep us – clergy and laypeople, and the United Methodist Church itself – close to God?
- When it proclaims that both sides feel pain, what does the Council of Bishops understand that to mean? Are there only two sides? What pain does the side that lobbies for more trials feel as the church keeps giving it what it asks for?
- How did Bishop Talbert’s action undermine Bishop Wallace-Padgett’s ministry? Isn’t she free to continue all the ministry to which she has been called and elected?
- Should we ask for charges against Bishop Wallace-Padget for undermining Bishop Talbert’s ministry by requesting that he not minister to people in the conference where she presides
- Should we ask for charges against each pastor and bishop who calls the loving relationships of LGBTQ people incompatible with Christian teaching, thereby undermining the ministries of those clergy who are in ministry with LGBTQ people, and the ministries of those clergy who are themselves gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer?
Please join us at a board meeting as soon as your schedule permits. Come to listen to some of our stories, as well as to help us with these questions.
Please acknowledge, publicly, that this conference is more than the Confessing Movement and the Good News organization. Make it clear that you hear our voices, too.
Finally, please send a letter to each pastor in this conference, reminding them that the church – even their local church – includes gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and their families and friends. Remind each clergy member that the Book of Discipline affirms “that God’s grace is available to all. We will seek to live together in Christian community, welcoming, forgiving, and loving one another, as Christ has loved and accepted us. We implore families and churches not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends. We commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons."
We have waited a long time to hear your voice speak out loud on our behalf. After the closed-door action of the Council of Bishops, we need that voice more than ever.
The Executive Board of Breaking the Silence
Rev. Glynden Bode, Co-Chair
Jim Evans (Deer Park UMC), Co-Chair
Rev. Dr. Jim Bankston
Rev. Kevin Young
Rev. Ernie Turney
Rev. Kim Meyers
Rev. Beverly Tune
Randy Scott (Bering Memorial UMC Houston)
Laura Young (Linden UMC)
Jack Cade (Kingwood UMC)
Chris Newlin (St. Paul’s UMC Houston)
Cheri Duncan (St. Paul’s UMC Houston)
Kathryn Johnson (Clear Lake UMC)
Mary Brown (First UMC Jacksonville)
Lahonda Sharp (Christ UMC Sugar Land)
Bill Tune (First UMC Groves)
Nelda Brooks (St. Peter’s UMC Katy)
Roxanne Taylor (First UMC Longview)
Dan Tidwell (St. Paul’s UMC Houston)
Amy Waltz (Cedar Bayou Grace UMC Baytown)
Anthony Ormsbee (Wesley Memorial UMC Huntsville)
Carolyn Franks (Deer Park UMC)
M.J. Gallup (Holy Covenant UMC Katy)