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Lesbian elder’s penalty takes different path

 
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4:00 P.M. EDT June 24, 2011 | KAUKAUNA, Wis. (UMNS)



Supporter Rebecca Neal Niese (right) congratulates the Rev. Amy DeLong at the conclusion of DeLong’s church trial.  UMNS photos by Mike DuBose.
Supporter Rebecca Neal Niese (right) congratulates the Rev. Amy DeLong at the conclusion of DeLong’s church trial. UMNS photos by Mike DuBose.
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For the first time in 20 years, a conviction for performing a same-sex union has not resulted in a United Methodist elder's defrocking or indefinite suspension.

Instead, after seven hours of deliberations, a jury of 13 United Methodist clergy voted 9-4 to suspend the Rev. Amy DeLong from her ministerial functions for 20 days beginning July 1.

The jury, which is called a trial court, also sentenced DeLong to a more detailed process for a year after her suspension to "restore the broken clergy covenant relationship." At least seven votes from the trial court of five women and eight men were required to approve a penalty.

"I hope this signals to folks around the country and around the world that the United Methodists in Wisconsin aren't going to throw their gay children out," said a smiling DeLong, sitting beside her partner of 16 years, Val Zellmer.

"I hope that this is the dawning of a new day that can include openness for all people," she added.



The Rev. Scott Campbell
The Rev. Scott Campbell
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The church trial, which began June 21 and ended June 23, was in the basement fellowship hall of Peace United Methodist Church in this small factory town in northeastern Wisconsin. DeLong was charged with violating The United Methodist Church’s ban on non-celibate, gay clergy and the prohibition against clergy officiating at same-sex unions.

The trial court acquitted her of being a "self-avowed practicing homosexual" by a vote of 12-1. The same panel unanimously found her guilty of violating the prohibition against conducting ceremonies celebrating same-gender unions.

DeLong, 44, who has been a clergy member of the Wisconsin Annual (regional) Conference for 14 years and serves as director of an education and advocacy group, did not deny that she is a lesbian. Her counsel, the Rev. Scott Campbell, argued successfully that church authorities had not proven she engaged in prohibited sexual activities.

DeLong also acknowledged she officiated at the union of Carrie Johnson and Carolyn Larson on Sept. 19, 2009, in Menominee, Wis. Both women testified on DeLong's behalf.

Larson told reporters she thinks the penalty provides "an opportunity for Amy to help the church make some sweeping changes."

Detailed penalty

The Book of Discipline, the denomination's law book, says all people are of sacred worth but states that "the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching."

The book bans "self-avowed practicing homosexuals" from being ordained or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church. It also says that marriage is to be between a man and a woman and forbids United Methodist clergy from officiating at same-sex unions.

The Rev. Thomas Lambrecht, the church's counsel in the case, had urged the jury to suspend DeLong indefinitely until she agreed in writing not to perform any more same-sex unions or the denomination's law banning such unions is changed.

The Rev. Greg Dell, now retired, faced a similar indefinite suspension in 1999 unless he agreed not to officiate at such unions. Dell refused, but the North Central Jurisdiction committee on appeals later amended the penalty to a one-year suspension.

DeLong, in her testimony during the trial's penalty phase, said she would not make such a pledge. Even as the trial court was deliberating on the possible indefinite suspension, she remained unbowed.



Carrie Johnson (left) and Carolyn Larson speak to reporters at a press conference after the Rev. Amy DeLong's church trial. DeLong performed a holy union ceremony for the couple in 2009. UMNS photos by Mike DuBose.
Carrie Johnson (left) and Carolyn Larson speak to reporters at a press conference after the Rev. Amy DeLong's church trial. DeLong performed a holy union ceremony for the couple in 2009. UMNS photos by Mike DuBose.
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"Performing the holy union for the couple was one of the great joys of my ministry," DeLong told reporters. "To sign such a document would say to the couple I married ‘Your marriage is not valid.’ "

The trial court did not explicitly require DeLong to decline future requests to officiate at same-sex unions, but it did instruct that she use her 20-day suspension as a period of spiritual discernment in preparation for a process of restoration.

The restoration process includes:

  1. "Open and collaborative communication" among DeLong; Wisconsin Area Bishop Linda Lee; the Rev. Jorge Luis Mayorga Solis, the district superintendent who supervises DeLong, and the complainant in the case; the Rev. Richard Strait, chair of the Wisconsin Conference board of ordained ministry; and a Wisconsin United Methodist elder of DeLong's choosing.
  2. A written document initiated by DeLong that will outline procedures for clergy in order to help resolve issues that "harm the clergy covenant, create an adversarial spirit or lead to future clergy trials." The document, the jury wrote, must be informed by the Bible, the 2008 Book of Discipline, Judicial Council rulings and other relevant materials.
  3. The first draft by DeLong in collaboration with the individuals named earlier is to be presented to the board of ordained ministry by Jan. 1, 2012.
  4. After review and editing by DeLong and the other designated church leaders, the final document is to be voted on in the clergy session of the 2012 Wisconsin Annual Conference.

The trial court added that failure to comply with their requirements will result in DeLong’s suspension from her ministerial functions for one year beginning June 3, 2012.

Lambrecht called the jury's penalty "very creative."



he Rev. Thomas Lambrecht
The Rev. Thomas Lambrecht
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"It recognizes that there was a violation, in terms of offering suspension," he said. "It creates a process that allows Rev. DeLong to reflect on this whole experience and to share some of what she has learned with the rest of the annual conference."

The penalty, he added, "recognizes that there was harm done to the clergy covenant and that an adversarial spirit was created, and it asks her to reflect on ways to move forward that won't lead to more church trials down the road."

Like DeLong, Lambrecht expressed hope that the penalty portends "a positive thing for the future."

Passionate dispute

The trial was the latest development in a longtime dispute within The United Methodist Church. Only General Conference, the denomination's top lawmaking assembly, can change The Book of Discipline.

The subject of homosexuality has sparked discussion at every session of the quadrennial General Conference since 1972. Delegates consistently have voted to keep the restrictions.

The church's division on the issue was evident during jury selection on June 21.

The presiding officer, retired Bishop Clay Foster Lee Jr., asked all potential jurors whether any prejudice, bias or opinion would prevent them from fairly applying the law in this case.

"I don't know how one fairly applies an unfair law," one said. Another announced strong support for the denomination's stand on homosexuality.

Fifteen of 23 prospective jurors expressed reservations. Lee dismissed anyone who expressed strong opinions one way or the other.

Neither Lambrecht nor DeLong's counsel, Campbell, could say what the unusual penalty means for the 2012 General Conference.



Bishop Clay Foster Lee Jr.speaks to reporters at a news conference during the Rev. Amy DeLong's church trial. Lee was presiding officer for the trial.
Bishop Clay Foster Lee Jr.speaks to reporters at a news conference during the Rev. Amy DeLong's church trial. Lee was presiding officer for the trial.
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Lambrecht expressed confidence that the church's laws on homosexuality would be upheld. He noted that the next General Conference will include more delegates from outside the United States – particularly from Africa, where delegates tend to be more conservative overall than are their U.S. counterparts.

Campbell speculated that the verdict and penalty could affect General Conference discussions in various ways.

"There may be some who move to tighten laws," he said. "There may be others who recognize that the time has come for us to stop trying to deal legalistically with matters of the heart, the spirit and the soul."

DeLong is known across the United States for advocating for greater inclusion of gays and lesbians within the church. In 2000, she co-edited "The Loyal Opposition: Struggling with the Church on Homosexuality," a collection of essays that argue for a more inclusive policy.

Singing with one voice

Her trial drew more than 100 supporters, including some from as far away as Massachusetts and Oregon. Each signed a pledge of nonviolence modeled on what the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. required civil rights demonstrators to sign. They began and ended each day with prayer and singing.

While the jury deliberated on the penalty, the crowd of mostly DeLong supporters and a handful of those who support maintaining the church’s stance on homosexuality sang hymns and folk songs together. The presiding officer joined in some of the hymns.

The Rev. Ethan Larson, pastor of two United Methodist churches near Viroqua, Wis., said before the penalty was announced that he thought DeLong should be under suspension "until she is willing to abide by The Book of Discipline."



The Rev. Janet Wolf (left) and Mark Bromley look up a passage in the United Methodist Book of Discipline while waiting outside the church trial of the Rev. Amy DeLong. Wolf teaches at American Baptist College in Nashville, Tenn., and Bromley is assistant counsel representing DeLong in the trial.
The Rev. Janet Wolf (left) and Mark Bromley look up a passage in the United Methodist Book of Discipline while waiting outside the church trial of the Rev. Amy DeLong. Wolf teaches at American Baptist College in Nashville, Tenn., and Bromley is assistant counsel representing DeLong in the trial.

Larson is the president of the Wisconsin Association of Confessing United Methodists, an unofficial evangelical group in the denomination that advocates keeping the current stance on homosexuality. He said that he did not know DeLong well but the two usually spoke to each other at gatherings.

Larson said the split verdict "came down the way it should," given the limited information the church's counsel was able to present in making the case. Still, he said, he found the arguments by DeLong's defense team frustrating.

"To me, it felt as if verbal games were being played," he said. "It was like ‘tag you're it,’ but I wasn't 'it' to begin with."

The Rev. Rob Renfroe, president and publisher of Good News magazine, was not at the trial but followed it from afar. In a phone interview on June 22, he expressed disappointment in the verdict.

"In no other organization would a person be able to willfully break the organization's policies and expect to keep working," Renfroe said. "An organization's response would be to thank the person for his service, let him pack his things and usher him out the door."

Lambrecht is a board member of Good News, an unofficial United Methodist evangelical renewal caucus, and will begin working for the group in July.

Wisconsin's Bishop Linda Lee said in a statement after the penalty that a trial is a heart-wrenching and painful process.

"Yet, we have hope because of our common faith in Jesus Christ, and trust that some growth and good can come from this," she said.

"There continue to be difficult questions with no ready answers as we face the months between now and General Conference in 2012. My prayer is that, as Christians, and as United Methodists, we will use this experience as a gateway to reconciliation, healing and restoration of our relationship with one another and with Christ."

*Hahn is a multimedia news reporter for United Methodist News Service.

News media contact: Heather Hahn, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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  • JCS 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    The United Methodist Church doctrine and scripture take definitive positions on the issues of homosexuality though there are many who argue this is not true in the interest of their own agenda. This conference's decision is contrary to UMC beliefs. This decision is also contrary to Romans 12:2 as the culture we live in is trending toward a disdain for anyone who believes anything critical of homosexuality and other sexual practices that are considered sinful. As believers we are called to love the sinner (including ourselves) but that does not mean we should support the sin by any means. We have all sinned and (probably sexually) so we cannot be judgemental of a struggler. However, Ms. DeLong, a UMC pastor. obviously has a personal agenda that is more than moving people closer to Christ and is not a struggler but someone condifently proclaiming that the rules have changed. The UMC should have taken her credentials away while continuing to everything to support her as a person outside of the pulpit. Now, I fear the UMC is not so united. While I personally support gays in their fight against discrimination and inequality and beliieve we, as a Church, have completely missed the mark on handling this issue, I cannot support a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ who claims that sin is no longer sin according to her own interests. I do not have a problem with accepting gay people into the church to hear the Gospel, but to support their sin or anyone's sin is contrary to the calling of the Gospel. This issue has the potential to divide the UMC.
  • camero445 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    I believe that this decision is a mistake and will lead to many more problems and conflicting issues in the near future.   How can this group condone a minister obviously breaking the church's rules?   We can debate the correctness or the Biblical foundations of the church's current rules, but the rules  should not be ignored when a minister is being tried for breaking them.  How can they possibly enforce any other rules?   Without consistency in enforcement, we might as well discard all of the rules.  I fear the UMC is on a slippery slope that will lead to its downfall.
  • Ryan 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    I don't quite understand the jury's unwillingness to uphold church law and to recognise that church law has been broken. If clergy are not held accountable to the standards of the church, then the church ceases to be a church. Without accountability and discipline the UMC is no longer a church. People are free to agree or disagree with church policy, and there is a way to do that. Every four years General Conference meets to outline the covenant to which we hold ourselves, clergy and laity, accountable. When these policies are failed to lived up to, then there is a breach of this covenanted relationship. I am hurt that someone would so willfully break a covenant they made. Miss Delong has broken the relationship she holds with the church and with fellow clergy. If you don't want to uphold the covenant you made, then find another group with which to partner with. This is a heartbreaking decision. I wonder what the worldwide church will say on these matters when they meet in Tampa in 2012. I am fearful that this lack of discipline will hasten the end of the UMC worldwide, a church I truly love.
  • Barry R 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Why do we even have a Book of Discipline anymore?  Why even a Bible for that matter?
  • cspick 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    Why does my denomination now condone sin as described so clearly in the Scripture?
  • Cowboy Up 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Certain Church members fear opposition to the ways of the culture or believe somehow that calling sin what it is constitutes judging.
  • Charles Mcneil 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    The responses I've read so far are tantamount to the Pharisees responding to Jesus' act of civil disobedience in turning over the tables in the Temple. It's terrible! How could such an action take place... in God's holy temple of all places!! It seems like many are caught up in the letter of the law, which kills; rather than the Spirit, which gives life. Perhaps we should re-institute slavery because slaves are commanded to obey their masters (since the scriptures tacitly supported the institution of slavery). Or perhaps we should reinstate the biblical practice of using concubines and multiple wives after the order of King Solomon's 700 wives and 300 concubines, or any number of other biblical heroes, going back to the father of our faith, Abraham. (Granted, ccording to NT standards, bishops, specifically, are to be confined to having only one wife.) And why don't women keep their heads covered any more in church. It's also terrible that they are getting their hair cut, as well...and not submitting to their husbands! When will we get it that so many things that some are holding onto are cultural standards that change and shift and move with time and place. Our understanding of human beings as they are created and the grace, love, and acceptance for all, without exemption or exception needs to get in tune with the spirit and message of Jesus Christ, not an empty form of traditionalism, fear, or prejudice. I thank God for the fresh winds of the Spirit which are moving through this trial and into the rest of the UMC to make it truly and completely and comprehensively a people of "Open hearts, open minds, and open doors."
  • lmillersr 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    When I go back to the news release and see the faces of Ms. DeLong along with others, I am amazed at their show of glee over breaking church law and getting such a light punishment.  If we were to take this to thesecular world, then someone could  smile when they have broken any law and thank our courts and judges for  just a slight slap on the wrist.  That is not justice in my opinion, it is blatant disregard for our discipline which if memory serves me correct at ordination, every ordinan  answers yes, when asked if they accept and support the Discipline of the UMC. My question to Ms. DeLong and others in her same situation, was that the first time she lied about her sexual orintation, or did she lie about it before in order to  pass the test before the Conference Committee on Orientation.  I believe that we have many clergy folk who have been willing to bend the truth in order to get ahead, be ordained, serve bigger churches, etc.  The list goes on and on.
  • AFrPr 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    It is interesting to me to recognize that the United Methodist Church learns slowly. In terms of race, "we" quoted Scripture to prove that it was right to continue to separate even white and black conferences, and then at the General Conference of 2000 "we" held a large service of repentance and apology. In terms of women, "we" quoted Scripture to prove that of course they could not be ordained but then we turned a corner and admitted "we" were wrong.

    Now "we" are again in the position of quoting Scripture to prove that LGBT persons are somehow less, cannot be ordained, and cannot have their love acknowledged be a service of union. And "we" hold trials.

    I said on my website after the conclusion of the trial of Amy DeLong, that luckily "the jury was wise enough to give her an opportunity to teach with her words and her life about loving each other."
  • suarezjc77 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    I agree. It is interesting that the UMC is ignoring the call of Romans 12:2. However, I cannot equate the struggle for civil rights and the message of MLK with the LGBT demands to be leaders in the Church and criticism of anyone who suggests that the Bible is very clear on it's position regarding sexuality for all the ages. Scripture has been misused in many ways, for many causes, but not when it comes to describing homosexuality as sin. Scripture is definitive, not relative to the time period we live in based on our culture's popular beliefs. If you want to say we have been wrong for condemning people and discriminating, I am with you but to say we have no right to identify what constitutes sin is a very dangerous type of Christianity to follow. God's grace covers all sin, but gives us no right to continue in sin and make up our own beliefs. An honest reading of the Bible without bias should lead to an obvious conviction on this subject.
  • HHH_AAA 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    This is a sad decision. Our Book of Discipline has been made a joke - our decades of Holy Conferencing at General Conference, completely disregarded. This might be the beginning of the end of the UMC as we know it today.
  • lmillersr 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    HECM, you don't klnow me personally so you therefore don't know that I have allowed homosexual folks to come and worship in any community of faith I have served over the last 25 plus years. I call people into account for any sin.  As far as your argument that folks who don't own slaves are sinners, I must say that more closely approaches legalism and literalism than merely reminding folks of sin.  All have sinned and come short of the glory of God, which includes me.  I am thankful for God's grace and love which I  know includes a love for you. If I were near you so I could hug you as a brother and a child of God, I would be honored to do so, but that would not change my faith belief that homosexuality is sin, sin no greater or no less than any sin that enters the human heart.  I pray God's blessings on you.
  • HECM 3 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    So, Let me get this straigt.  You are calling homosexuality a sin because it says so in the bible.  It also says that you should own slaves, stone those who eat shelfish, and that it is ok to have more than one wife.  You are bigots.  You are choosing to take the bible as law, and then bend it to fit your needs.  Those of you who are male and only have one wife...you are a sinner!  repent now!  those of you who eat shelfish??  You should be stoned to death!  I do understand that you have read and studied the bible.  You consider youself educated on the subject.  You say you could answer Gods questions as YES!  Yes you have loved his children as he did, but you are fooling yourself.  You said you love everyone but know a sin when you see one and you will educate those who are sinners and have them turn back to God.    Do you let people know in your church that they are sinners because they dont own slaves?  Do you preach on how a wife should submit to her husband no matter what?  I am glad that you have found God, I have too.  Dont preach to me about my life style.  I will handle my sins when I meet with God,   You will have to answer for your own when you get there.  I am positive that when he says did you Love my children as I do, your answer would have to be yes, but only if they followed the bilbes.  As for Jeffery, your right.  My "rant" is judgemental and angrey.  I pray everyday that We all can find common ground, peace and love to be in the church together.  I understand you feel homosexulality is a sin.  However, while you see me as a sinner you are not loving me when you treat me as a leper and a second class citizen who is not worthy of Gods love in your church.
  • reithien 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Christ's blood was shed for all of us.  I have had to give my life style and the handeling of my sins to God, as there is no way that I can handle any of it.  Please forgive the ones who made you feel like a leper and a second class citizen.  Because the reality is that in every thought, word, and deed-the power of sin can be used in any form and somewhere, I remember that sin is sin to God and a lot of times we try to stick some value on the various sins-so we can somehow justify the "little sins of our daily life" and yell about the "bigger sins of others".
  • Rick Silva 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Before we go calling people "bigots", let's take some time to get a basic understanding of the Bible.  The dietary restrictions against eating shellfish, for example, were for the Ancient Hebrews.  Please read http://www.biblegateway.com/pa...
  • PWV 19 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    Oh my goodness. I follow Jesus, and Jesus taught love, and Jesus taught acceptance, and Jesus taught not to judge. Evidently the UMC Discipline has greater faith in Paul than Jesus. I choose Jesus. And thank you UMministersdaughter for your thoughts.
  • UMministersdaughter 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Thank you, PWV! And thanks for writing about what Jesus taught and DID in his own life in accepting and loving people from all walks.
  • Cowboy Up 17 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    I think a thorough reading of the Bible is in order. Jesus was not so prone to accepting sin, just sinners.
  • PWV 16 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    Oh by all means, do read the Bible again! In fact, I encourage that you read Marcus Borg's "Reading the Bible Again for the First Time," and "Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time" while you read the Bible again. Also, "The Gospel Truth" is a good revalation of the contexts and history of the Bible. It's good to understand the Bible.
  • Cowboy Up 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    I was actually referring to your suggestion that the UMC doctrine was somehow in conflict with the teachings of Christ. I find the Bible to read very clearly in most parts without the use of some other person's interpretation. I'm not sure about your reference to Paul. The Paul I read about was very consistent with the message of Christ unless your irresponsibly comparing the UMC to the pre-conversion Paul who killed Christians, known as Saul. Jesus also referred to people as hypocrites, white-washed tombs, and told them they were like cups cleaned on the outside but full of filth on the inside. I do not see a Jesus afraid to call sin what it is. No one is judging anyone by merely calling sin what it is. The UMC accepts anyone into it's congregation but that does not mean the Bible should be changed to please the Church and culture.
  • lmillersr 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Thanks Cowboy Up.  PWV mentions Marcus Borg's "Reading the Bible Again for the First Time," and "Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time" while you read the Bible again. I have read some of Borg's works and  and find him very out of touch from my stand point.  He along with others continue to try and diminish Jesus to little or nothing.  One of his friends has claimed that  Jesus was nothing more than a Jewish Peasant whose body was tossed into a paupers grave and eaten by dogs as a means of explaining the empty tomb. Too many people are falling for that kind of trash and true worship of God is going down the tubes with it.
  • HHH_AAA 13 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    A re-reading of the Bible is in order indeed. It is because all this filtered reading of the biblical text that we are where we are...when what the text says is not convenient, we need to read the text through the lenses of those who agree with what we want to read in the text. But, there are books on both side of the debate. What about letting the Spirit behind the letter of the biblical text speak to us, and abide by it.
  • PWV 12 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    I quite agree. And when you re-read the Bible, take particular notice that Jesus never spoke of homosexuality. It never comes up in his ministry. It certainly existed; but evidently Jesus was concerned with practicing peace, social justice, and love. Interesting, isn't it?
  • Cowboy Up 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    It never comes up as recorded in the Bible, we don't really know if it came up in his ministry. It may not have been that relevant in his culture and day. I tell you one thing though, he did quote in the Gospels: "God made them male and female, for this reason Man will leave his father and mother and be united to his Wife and the two will become one flesh." Doesn't sound like the attitude of someone endorsing other possibilities.
  • Gary Arrington 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Yeah, I don't think he ever specifically mentioned

    pedophilia either...


  • HHH_AAA 9 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    @PWV   - what you are suggesting is a read of the gospels, not the Bible. If the argument is always going to be "Jesus never mentioned it", then we ought to get rid of 75% of our Social Principles and publish our own sacred book that only contains the gospels. The Bible, needs to be approached as a whole book - where the Three-in-One God is revealed to us. God was present before Jesus, God was present in Jesus, God is still present through the Holy Spirit (and the Father and the Son).
  • PWV 8 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    What I'm suggesting is that Paul was a human and had human flaws. If you're a Christian, your faith (as was Paul's) is in Jesus. I doubt Paul would ever suggest that we put his word above Jesus's. And I'm suggesting that when we read the Gospells we don't infer things that Jesus never said, but attend to what he did say. Jesus taught peace, love, and acceptance. Paul tried to practice that - he wasn't perfect (remember there was only one perfect person), but he tried. Put your faith in Jesus. I do.
  • Cowboy Up 7 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    I believe Jesus endorses the entire Bible, not just the parts where he was alive in flesh. Jesus speaks in Genesis-Revelation. His presence is not limited to the earthly time frame when he was physically alive. You cannot separate what Paul wrote from what Jesus endorses. It seems like you are saying that Jesus beliefs in the Bible somehow contradict the words of Paul. I fail to see the evidence of that. Jesus also gracefully confronted sin with correction and authority. Putting your faith in Jesus includes the whole Bible. Paul was writing the words of God through the work of the Holy Spirit.
  • PWV 6 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    See, I think that's funny. Jesus challenged scripture during his ministry (e.g., healing on the Sabbath). Of course he challenges scripture. And odd that you choose to think that Jesus contradicts Paul. It's far easier and far more Christian to put faith in Jesus and accept that Paul just got some things wrong. He was human - I bet he'd be the first to admit he got some things wrong. But bless you, and thanks for the smile.
  • Jeffrey P 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    "Nay. if there be any mistakes in the Bible there may as well be a thousand. If there be one falsehood in that book it did not come from the God of truth." - John Wesley

    I've always understood the entirety of the bible to be a work of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus did not physically write a single letter of it.  The quotes and actions attributed to Jesus were written by other men a number of years after they were spoken.  Why would you trust Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John more than Paul?  Paul had far more religious training.
  • PWV 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Remember what kind of religious training Paul had. It came before his transformation, and he perscuted Christians.
  • Cowboy Up 3 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    With all due regard, I didn't smile. I don't believe in that fake kind of "lets all just get along" mentality. I'm from the south, I know what someone means when they say "bless you" also. The connotation is not always good will. Jesus challenged the letter and false interpretations of scripture while endorsing the spirit of the scripture he says he did not come to abolish the law, but to accomplish their purpose. And I was saying that YOU are stating that Jesus contradicts Paul. Paul made no mistakes. He was surrendered to the Holy Spirit when writing his letters. The Bible is very intentionally written the way it is and it is God's word to us, it says in the end not to add to or take away. I think you are rather confused but I am just a sinner like you. Keep in mind, that Jesus states he came with a sword not to bring peace at one point too. The Christian life is not soft or passive. There are times we will have to make a stand, especially against the trends of culture. We should probably agree to disagree for now. I truly wish you no harm or ill will, but I do believe you are caught up in a Christian trend that is a lie straight from the enemy. Paul represents Jesus or else he is a liar and a fraud that somehow made it into the Bible.
  • PWV 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    I'm sorry. I meant no offense. I'm not from the south. I don't know what other connotation "bless you" has than a sincere and genuine expression. I've enjoyed our chat, but I guess it's gone too far.
  • Cowboy Up 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    PWV, I was not offended. In the south, saying bless you or bless your heart to someone is often a sarcastic way of cursing them instead. If you are from another part of the country, you may not know about that. It's all good. I think our discussion this discussion has been interesting too. I am not opposed to anyone's choices. I just believe the Bible is being changed by well meaning people who want everyone to get along. I also believe a very real enemy is subtly behind that. At best I can buy the argument that Jesus was not as concerned about the issue at hand as we are. To this day the UMC doctrine articulates my convictions on almost every matter. It is difficult to see it challenged.
  • Horatius 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    As a member of a United Methodist congregation it is my obligation to support my church and pray for its ministerial leadership and abide by the Bible’s teachings. I believe that homosexuals belong in our church, but in the congregation along with all the other sinners like me who need to hear the Word spoken from the pulpit by those we entrust to lead us. A denomination known to be rife with homosexuals is not something I care to be associated with.
  • UMministersdaughter 8 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    Christians who exclude others are the ones who are destroying the United Methodist Church! Last Saturday I attended a good friend's ordination into the Episcopal church. He had been an ordained United Methodist minister for years. He is kind, loving, a wonderful preacher, supportive, nurturing pastor, and multi-talented Renaissance man.  Several hundred former parishioners and friends attended the ordination--many of us exclaiming what a tremendous loss this was to the United Methodist Church. But because my friend is in a loving, long-term, committed relationship with another man and therefore could not "legally" and  fully live into his call to ministry in the United Methodist church, he left the denomination. This is a huge loss to the UM church---and this is only one instance of MANY talented, loving people who are leaving our denomination. Church should be about INclusion---never about exclusion!
  • Expiscopal 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    This actually makes me happy. I am glad your friend found a home in  a
    denomination that is aligned with his beliefs.  That is the right thing
    to do, rather than try to bend the UMC to fit his beliefs.  I pray that
    he will be a blessing to his parishioners, and they to him.
  • Expiscopal 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    This actually makes me happy. I am glad your friend found a home in  a denomination that is aligned with his beliefs.  That is the right thing to do, rather than try to bend the UMC to fit his beliefs.  I pray that he will be a blessing to his parishioners, and they to him.
  • Cowboy Up 4 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    With all due regard, The UMC needs pastors fully surrendred to God and his calling, not "talented" people with their own agendas. I do not see it as a loss. It makes room for someone who is hopefully willing to be surrendered to whatever and whereever God leads them. I'm sure the man is kind and as wonderful as you say, but God doesn't need any one pastor to work in the UMC.
  • UMministersdaughter 3 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    Cowboy Up, I ask you this question. Why IS it that the only people ever accused of having their "own agendas" are GLBT people??? And somehow you twisted my use of the word "talented" to describe my friend as being a negative. Have you ever considered that perhaps God is trying to lead us in THIS situation to a more inclusive, loving church?
  • Cowboy Up 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    I have also considered Satan's role in this. Not everyone who believes that homosexuality is sinful, is as unloving and hating toward the homosexual person as you probably imagine, as indicated in your assumption that my use of the word talented in quotes would indicate something perverted. Opposition to including homosexuals in your pulpit is not the same as opposing them in your congregation to hear the message of the gospel or opposing them for equality as people when it comes to true discrimination. I would not be opposed to having a recovering repenting homosexual in the pulpit. If the Church is so much about inclusion, then why do we not include Islam and Mormon beliefs too in the UMC doctrine? The truth is that many more people will leave the UMC over the acceptance of homosexuality in the doctrine than will not come because of it's teaching that it is incompatible with the teachings of Christ.
  • Cowboy Up 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Thanks for the questions. I do not think that LGBT's are the only ones who have their own agendas, but I do believe Ms. DeLong does have an agenda. I am not sure how I twisted your use of the word talented. I believe you are being truthful when you call the man talented. The greater point is that I do not believe God is looking for talent in the way American Idol is so he can have a superstar in the pulpit. God can use the least likely people to spread his message. In regard to your last question, I'm certain God has plans for everyone. I already consider the UMC to be inclusive and loving. However I also believe, inclusion does not mean changing the meaning of sin. I'm certain your views are very different. I hope that God's plan does prevail within the UMC.
  • lmillersr 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    I am sorry that you feel that identifying homosexuality as a sin and contrary to the Christian teachings and believe that the ony way the church can be united is by including people whose sin is unrepented into full inclusion in the church.  John Wesley said that when we come to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, we embark on the road of perfection, not that we will attain it in this lifetime, but we are called to be on the road regardless.  What is happening in the church today is a movement in the direction of wanting to continue to be and live imperfect lives even though one claims Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives
  • lmillersr 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    I asked my congregation for their prayers as I seek to deal with this that I call a tragedy in the United Methodist Church which is no longer united and yesterday I received an email from oned of the members who is affiliated with the UCC branch of this conregation who chastise me severly for daring to say the church was wrong in not adhearing to the rule of Discipline and concluded that if I ever spoke  like that again from the pulpit, she would leave the church. Now, I know I don't have to beat this horse into glue, but I cannot justify not exposing sin when it rears it head in our midst. As for me, I am convinced that the devil has had too much success as of late in getting people to believe the lies of some who claim they are serving God as faithful disciples but denying the Word of God as the foundation of the faith that we are called to stand on.  I will continue to pray, pray, and pray all the  more for my own forgiveness as I too am a sinner, but also for those who continue to walk in the darkness of the leftwinged factions within the visible church.
  • HECM 4 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    You people scare me to death! I have always been taught that God and Jesus loves everyone, no matter what! It does not matter if you are black or white or Hispanic. It does not matter what you look like, what age you are or what physical or mental disabilities you have. I am positive that neither of them care what you do in the privacy of your own home between two consulting adults. I used to have a very hard time believing that people who murder or commit someother terrible crime could go to heaven. I belive when you die you sit with God at his kitchen table and you review your life, you will have to recount and explain all of your sins. And when it's all said and done.. God will ask you.. Did you love all my children on Earth as I do? Did you treat my children differently because they were not like you? Did you hate because they did not believe what you believe? God does not hate. I do read the Bible, I do learn from it, I also know that at the time it was written was a completely different time and those rules they followed at that time can not be followed now. Unless you think we should stone our family members, own slaves, etc. Why can't you people learn that it is ok to disagree, learn some tolerance, and if you don't like something, and it's not hurting you keep your mouth shut and your opinions to yourself. I am positive that who I sleep with in the privacy of my own home, as long as it's a consulting adult, does not hurt you in any way shape or form. And may God have mercy on your soul when it's your time to sit at the table and review your sins!!! Because I am pretty sure when it comes to some of those questions, you will have to answer no. No God, I did not love them, or treat them well...cause they slept with the same sex partner...and he will smile at you and YOUR sentence will be handed over!!!
  • lmillersr 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    I agree with Jeffrey P.  HECM seems to believe that as Christians we do not have any place in trying to make the destinction between good, bad, or otherwise.  Yes Jesus tells us to love one another as he loved us.  I don't think that Jesus believe that it was ok for him to even consider having a sexual encounter or relationship with any of the disciples, not even in the privacy of his own circle. You have missed the boat.  I can answer God's question with a very  strong Yes, Yes, I loved them, but didn't agree with their life style because of the sin that is present in their lives not unlike the folks in Sodom and Gamorrah.  How God will deal with this belongs to God...  I can only be a messenger which calls all of us to repent from our sins and turn back to God.
    America has been going downhill for many generations now, and it is time for a renewal of God fearing people, not bigots, but God fearing and loving people who know sin when they see it in themselves and in the world around them.
  • Cowboy Up 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    HECM: Do not be afraid. Christians believe in grace. That means the only plea we have for our sins will be Jesus. It's not about us being able to give an account to God for our sins that is going to be acceptable to God, but believing in what Jesus did for us at the cross. Yes, this includes all sinfulness. You are correct that the Bible has to be viewed in the context of epoch in many places when it comes to primitive civilization's customs and ideas versus the modern world. However, there are certain things that are universally identified as constituting sin or else we are just adjusting the Bible according to our own preferences based on our sin nature. Sexual sin is repeatedly addressed in the Bible (See Romans1-2 and Rev 3 for relevance to this issue and the UMC) No one is judging you for being homosexual we have all committed some form of sexual sin, however, it is safe to judge what constitutes sin while still loving the person in the sin. The Bible commands us to confront a brother (or sister) who is caught in sin and restore them when possible. People are okay for believing homosexuality constitutes sin. They are not okay when they judge others and ignore their own sin. Ms. Delong should be loved by the UMC but that doesn't mean agreeing with her and not discerning her motives and ignoring blatant violations of the doctrine she took an oath to uphold.
  • Jeffrey P 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    HECM, This is very hypocritical.  Is your rant loving or tolerant towards those that disagree with you.  Your post is very judgmental and condemning.
  • HHH_AAA 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    will any truth hold in the UMC anymore
  • Jeffrey P 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    How about the Second Law of Thermodynamics (entropy)?  We may not be holding onto it, but it seems very applicable to us.  I know that I'm using this word entropy loosely, but it seems that the UMC is slowly winding down.  Someday there may be nothing left of us but a pension program.
  • JCS 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    It's difficult to reconcile your statement with Romans 12:2 and other parts of the Bible. Parts of the Bible, wrtitten in the historical context of their time, make sense when equating them to today's time. We no longer have slaves and slaveowners but we do have managers and workers and other parallel relationships on a lesser extreme. You are right, that those who deny they are without sin and even sexual sin, would be behaving similar to a pharasiee. However, the issue is someone attempting to change the meaning of scripture and of what constitutes sin, not of someone who is admitting they are struggling with sin. The Church should not look to the standards that culture is setting for their values.
  • lmiller 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    There is a big difference between Jesus' act of overthrowing the money changers and turning out the merchants from the temple. My Bible tells me to love people, which includes men and women, but it doesn't tell me to have sex with a man nor would it condon my having sex with multiple women. I can reach out to the homosexual with love and I do, but that doesn't mean I am looking to have a sexual encounter with them. I have known many in my ministry and have yet to have had any one of them, male or female come to me and tell me that their sexuality was anything other than their personal choice. The New Testament tells us that the time will come when men will change their natural desires for the unnatural ones and likewise the same will be true of women. God loves these people and so do I, but I don't have to like their life style or agree with it and brother that doesn't make me a Pharisee, period.
  • lmillersr 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    It seems that this particular case is going by the wayside of apathy by those who believe in Scriptural Holiness.  I would like to remind folks that Martin Luther took a bold and brave stand against the Pope of the Roman Church when they were peddling false doctrine.  In today's world not only many United Methodist Bishops  but leaders of other denominations are also peddling false doctrine and this is just  one more example of how far it has gone.  I pray that those who are not way out on either end of the theologal grid will stand up and be counted with such saints as Martin Luther  and most especially John Wesley.  We have seen the results of apathy in the political arena in this country, let's not let take its toll on the Church, our "United?" Methodist Church.  God will not be denied no matter how hard we human beings try!!!
  • lmillersr 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    I haven't followed all of this discussion to the extent that some may have, but I do have something to say about this whole issue that we are facing in the church.  Our United Methodist Discipline was violated.  The person who violated it stood up before a gathering of United Methodists and said "yes" to the Bishop's questions at her ordination.  She said "yes" to her acceptance of the Discipline of the United Methodist Church. At that time, she had to have lied because she is gay and the Discipline states that someone who is gay may not be ordained.  At her ordination she had to have lied because she has demonstrated that she doesn't and most likely didn't have any desire to agree with the Discipline.
    That alone should say something ab out her integrity, but the blame game doesn't stop there.  Too often, Boards of Ordained Ministry knowingly move someone who they know don't support the Discipine through the system because of their liberal bent.  I personally know of one who said she didn't believe in the Resurection who has been ordained, not without the objections of some on the Board, but with the support of  the liberal majority. What bothers  me the most about all of this is knowing that if I were to publically make any  statement saying that I wasn't able to support the UM Discipline and someone wanted to bring charges against me, my orders would be taken away where as in six days this gay elder will be free to continue  to spread a false gospel to the United Methodist Church's discredit!!!
  • DavidP 4 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    Funny how the least of these who is as important s Jesus must not be homosexual.

    Perfectly congruent with a Christian church that demeaned lepers for two centuries after Jesus embraced them, only stopped by a pill that cures it.  Who got the lepers into Leviticus, God, Moses or some Levite?  God usually gets it right, and it is hard to pick on Moses.  Do the Jews get the blame, after all the other blames, for the leprosy mistake and all those millenniums of abuse?

    Who got bacon out of Leviticus unharmed but left lgbt behind?  Popular choice, I guess.

    I didn't need a prophet or scripture to tell me it was wrong.  Hate is always the wrong choice, the choice of Satan.  The Holy Spirit tells those that love, that this hate was wrong.  A child could tell.  Never use the words sinner, heretic, demon, abomination, hate, damned, unrepentant, . . . .  All the vocabulary of hate, never the vocabulary of love.

    The final tragedy is that if something is to be fixed, love will fix it.  Hate will hold it out of reach and in place forever.
  • waitforflash 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Too often Christians confuse Jesus Christ with Santa Claus. They hear "love one another" and stop there while "go and sin no more" never gets through.
  • Cowboy Up 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    So many confuse love with being nice or always non-offending to people's feelings. I believe you are right however, love will not leave people where they are when they are in sin. Of course, is it the word sin that offends you or the connotation given by the culture and some judgementals? It's in the Biblical text whether we like it or not and it lives in us. Don't define hate by including people who believe something is a sin. Love is honesty. Disagreement with your views is not the same as hate.
  • lmillersr 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Dear DavidP,
    I hope that you don't believe that all we are talking about is hating the homosexual persons.  That is not it at all. God loves them and I will be the first to say that we need to love them as well, but Jesus didn't tell someone their sins were forgiven and then tell them to go and keep on sinning. There is ample evidence in both the Old and New Testaments to support the belief that the homosexual lifestyle is sinful.  If we love them, we cannot sit by and say that their sin is anymore acceptable  than our own, and God knows both you and I are sinners no less along with all of the rest of humanity.
  • lmillersr 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    I am truly amazed  at how some folks can make their arguments for their personal agendas without including the whole of Sacred Scripture.  Several have suggested re-reading the Bible, but fail to add that that same Bible says in 2 Timothy 3:16 "All Sctipture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instuction in righteousness that the mand of God may be completely equipped for every good work."  I am sorry folks, those of you who say Jesus never mentioned homsexuality forget that he admonished folks again and again to go and sin no more.  All of Scripture includes the Old Testament as well as all of the New Testament where the practice of homosexuality is condemned as sin. God didn't create two Adams or two Eves for each other, but those who desire to rewrite Scripture to meet their own liberal agenda are determined to try and do just that.  Sorry folks, sin is sin and the sooner the churches of any or all denominations get back to the foundation of the Christian faith, the better the world will be.
  • kabbyb 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    READ the Book of Resolutions of the United Methodist Church!  Those surveyed DO NOT know about this book.  I ordered it online at Cokesbury...I found it to be VERY eye-opening!  IF you believe in a ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT well guess what so does the hierarchy of the UMC!
  • lmillersr 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    From what I have been able to see, the great majority of posts indicate a level of pain for such a weak response by those who were charged with insuring that the Discipline of our "United Methodist Church" was to be observed by those who have been charged at Ordination with abiding by it and leading people into a Spiritual Relationship with our Creator God.  The concern I have is that in the next General Conference  to be held in Florida next year, what will be the result of all the petiions that have been forwarded by the gay community seeking to overturn our discipline?  The Discipline gives every member of a United Methodist Church the right to submit individual petitions to the General Conference,but there  is a deadline.  I pray that a great number of voices via this route will be raised to send  a strong message to the delegates that the Discipline must stay as  it is.
  • HHH_AAA 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    can someone from the UMNS research and share ASAP whether this type of decisions are subject to review by the Judicial Council, and if so, when this would happen? I would like to believe that if every decision of law made by bishops is subject to review, this trial's outcome is also accountable to the scrutiny of our Judicial Council. It seems to me that those that decided, did so, based on their personal feelings/opinions and not based on current church law.
  • lmillersr 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    I am concerned no that our comments cannot be posted without censorship.  I don't believe that we should use bad language or threatening language in our posts, but this issue needs to be addressed and those of us who believe that our discipline is right and proper as it is and should be upheld by all clergy, including bishops that have been known to violate it from time to time should not be censored in any way.  I have had one post already held up and don't wish to see other folks comments put out to pasture.

    [Moderator note: All posts are held in the moderator queue for approval before being posted. We have recently switched commenting systems, and are exploring ways to expediate this process.]
  • lmillersr 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    I would like someone to show me in the Bible where is says that it's ok for a  man to have sex with another man or that it is ok for a woman to engage in sexual acts with another woman.  I know the Bible tells us to love one another which means in my limited language skills that it's ok to love another male as a man, but that isn't any form of sexual license which is what the gay and lesbian movement is all about and they want to try and justify their behavior based on love, but it isn't love in my mind is missplaced lust.
  • JCS 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Ken: The UMC is divided into conferences. I assure you the decision of this one conference do not represent the views of the entire church. Like any organization, some leaders will emerge with a personal agenda. Please visit your local UMC and see for yourself what the local views are. If not, do get involved with the body of Christ somewhere, it is paramount to your continued spiritual growth.
  • JCS 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    I'm with you, Where are all the other UMCs?
  • lmiller 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    I brought this up before my congregation this morning and had some positive feed back, but also some were not comfortable with me bringing the issue to their attention. This is understandable because I serve a Federated Church which is part UCC and UMC. The UCC folks are as a matter of course here more liberal to the point that their Executive Minister is a practicing homosexual women in a relationship with another woman. Sad, Sad, Sad!!!
  • lmiller 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    I am an Associate Member of and annual conference and I understand your concerns. However, what we need in the United Methodist Church is more people like you who will stand up and be counted for Jesus Christ. Martn Luther took a bold step in Germany several hundred years ago to reform the Roman Church and it's time we stand together to reform the United Methodist Church that is slowly going the way of the ancient Roman Church with all of it's corruption.
  • rahkfh46 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    You are so right in what you say. They still cannot explain  what the Bible teaches in Romans Chapter 1 vrs 18 thru 32. especially vrs 22,{24,25,26,27,28}. Paul clearly states in these vrs Gods stand on this and other sins. If we as Christians cannot abide by what Gods guidelines are from the plan of salvation til we face Him one day then we as Christians should just close our Bibles, close our Church doors and go about our daily business.But we all know that is not Gods plan so we need to be about our Fathers business trying to lead as many souls to Christ as possible, because things are not going to last too much longer. He is coming very soon. No one. I mean no one knows the hour or the day, but God Himself. God bless.
  • Bob 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Robert Hawkins
  • Bob 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Robert E. Hawkins, Virginia Conference Retired
  • Ken Schmidt 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Ken Schmidt - Calumet, Ok
  • cspick 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    AMEN< AMEN< AMEN!

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