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New same-sex blessing complaint filed

 
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1:00 P.M. EDT August 1, 2011



A UMNS photo illustration by Kathleen Barry.
A UMNS photo illustration by Kathleen Barry.
View in Photo Gallery

A United Methodist pastor in Minnesota faces a formal complaint that he may have conducted a ceremony that celebrates the union of a same-gender couple, which church law prohibits.

Bishop Sally Dyck has announced that the cabinet of the Minnesota Annual (regional) Conference of The United Methodist Church on June 29 filed the complaint against the Rev. Gregrey Renstrom.

Renstrom, a retired elder who is pastor of New Harmony United Methodist Church, a new fellowship in Minneapolis, conducted what he described as blessings of “mutually reverent relationships” on June 25 and 26. None of these took place in United Methodist churches or on United Methodist properties.

The cabinet filed the complaint to investigate whether the blessings constitute a violation of Paragraph 341.6 of The 2008 United Methodist Book of Discipline, which states, “Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches.”

“These are challenging times for everyone in our families, communities, churches, and country as we find our way forward on this issue,” said Bishop Dyck, acknowledging that faithful Christians hold widely differing opinions on the topic of holy unions of same-sex couples.



Bishop Sally Dyck and her cabinet will investigate whether church law was violated by a Minnesota pastor for blessing a same-gender union. A UMNS file photo by Mike DuBose.
Bishop Sally Dyck and her cabinet will investigate whether
church law was violated by a Minnesota pastor for blessing
a same-gender union. A UMNS file photo by Mike DuBose.
View in Photo Gallery

Read Bishop Dyck's column about the complaint

Renstrom reported to Bishop Dyck in advance that he planned to conduct the blessings that weekend. His image and voice were broadcast in a KARE-11 Minneapolis television news report on Gay Pride festivities.

Bishop Dyck said she intends to follow the review process required by Paragraph 361.1, which states, “This review shall have as its primary purpose a just resolution of any violations of this sacred trust, in the hope that God’s work of justice, reconciliation and healing may be realized in the body of Christ.”

The process

After a written complaint is filed, an investigation period begins and may last up to 45 days. When that investigation period ends, the bishop must dismiss the complaint or initiate a supervisory response. Renstrom will continue to pastor New Harmony while the complaint is resolved.

Paragraph 361.1 (b) states, “The supervisory response is pastoral and administrative and shall be directed toward a just resolution among all parties. It is not part of any judicial process.”

Bishop Dyck said she decided to publicize the complaint because of two recent news events: the signing by at least 70 Minnesota United Methodist clergy of a statement pledging to “offer the grace of the church’s blessing to any prepared couple desiring Christian marriage” and the trial in June of the Rev. Amy DeLong, a Wisconsin elder.



The Rev. Gregrey Renstrom. A UMNS web-only photo courtesy of Gregrey Renstrom.
The Rev. Gregrey Renstrom.
A UMNS web-only photo courtesy of Gregrey Renstrom.

DeLong was acquitted by the trial court on the charge 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. The jury voted 9-4 to suspend DeLong from her ministerial functions for 20 days beginning July 1, 2011.

A plea for prayers

The complaint against Renstrom provides an opportunity to clarify United Methodist due process in such situations, Bishop Dyck said. She is urging Minnesota United Methodists to follow Paul’s advice to the Colossians (3:12) and “hold each other close in the Spirit of Christ and demonstrate compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength and discipline."

“I would ask that you keep in your prayers Rev. Renstrom, the New Harmony fellowship, the Minnesota Annual Conference (of churches and clergy), The United Methodist Church, and all in our culture who are struggling, hurting, and caring deeply about this matter,” Bishop Dyck said.

*Rebeck is director of communication for the Minnesota Annual (regional) Conference of the United Methodist Church. She can be reached at victoria.rebeck@minnesotaumc.org; (612) 230-6132.

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

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Showing 47 comments

  • John Mize 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Marriage is a religious ceremony.  That religious ceremony has nothing to do with the "rights" of the homosexual community. Those are local and state level laws and regulations.  I have no problem with a gay couple being joined by a magistrate and enjoying the same rights as anyone else.  But a religion is a a group of people with the same core beliefs about God, morality, scriptural interpretation, and many other spiritual elements.  Why would any gay couple want to be joined in a ceremony conducted by a minister of a religion that considers their lifestyle a sin?  It would be the same as as devout christian wanting their marriage recognized and blessed by a druid...it just does not make sense.
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  • Dennis Mazingo 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Marriage is only between a "natural" born man and a "natural" born woman.
    Anyone who tries to change the Bible should be stripped of the credentials and their pensions.
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  • crowep 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    We Methodist need to concentrate on issues which are destructive...war & deasth penalty ..and stop attacking people who love!  Earl Crow   Winston-salem nc
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  • BRYAN MCINTYRE 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Simply condemning unhealthy and unBiblical behavior has never been the answer.  Nor has encouraging and enabling   people to have what they want ever brought the life God intended for them to have or experience.   I don't believe supporting or not supporting the issues of homosexuality will ever get us (UMC) beyond the problem.  We will only experience the life and freedoms of God when we get to the "whys" of what causes us to make the decisions to be what we choose to be,  and from there both apply and received the truths of God.   It's the truth applied directly to the lie that sets us free!
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  • Pantocrator 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    An interesting phrase at the end by Bishop Dyck: "... all in our culture..."  Whose culture would that be?

    Arguing from Scripture is always vulnerable to the kind of non-sequiturs we find below.  Scripture says something absurd, so everything it says is absurd.  Scripture says something we don't obey, so we don't need to obey anything in it. 

    Let's try to see this with common sense for a minute. 

    Common sense tells us that gay people are like straight people in both their virtues and vices save for one very critical aspect: they feel attraction to the same sex and want to have sexual intercourse with someone of the same gender.  Some want to pick a single partner and stay with that partner in a state like what their parents hopefully did.

    Since sexual intercourse is etymologically a "relationship between the sexes", the best the real world of actual anatomical sexual differentiation can provide them is homoeroticism.  Is homoeroticism appropriate human behavior?  That's the big question - whether framed scientifically, morally or theologically.

    The human race depends on sexual intercourse in order to produce children.  As such, human society has the interest in privileging the state of marriage since it also depends on it for survival.  Today, marriage attempts to 1) provide equal protection for both marriage partners by prohibiting polygamy and infidelity 2) prevent genetic defects in children caused by married to someone of close blood relation and 3) provide children with both the stability of the love of both parents and in the best case, a relationship with both biological parents, a male father and female mother, availing the children with an example of their healthy relationship and diverse experience.  Sexual diversity is a good thing.  Excluding the opposite sex from a major institution is what we call sexism.

    With this in mind, gay marriage cannot "equal" straight marriage any more than the artificial sweetener "Equal" can equal sugar.   If a person puts "Equal" into a hummingbird feeder, the bird will drink it until it starves to death. 

    The exclusive, loving, lasting, homoerotic relationship may have many of the aspects of marriage, but it is not interchangeable with it any more than men and women are sexually/anatomically interchangeable.  One doesn't need to consult religion to know this.  Infants instinctively know to be oriented to the female sex in order to be nursed.  Infants don't have the choice of anatomical relativism.

    If a choice, exclusive same sex preference would be either narcissistic (based on love of self or one's own kind), hedonistic (driven solely by eroticism and pleasure), self-destructive (intentionally wanting to not propagate one's own traits to future generations), or delusional and irrational (where in two men, for example, believe they will conceive children together who are the genetic descendants of both or a person fears the opposite sex). 

    All of these possibilities have implications on psychology, morality and character, and certainly there are likely instances where it could be either of these choices.  The problem is that most gay people claim it is not a choice.  Further more, there are vast numbers of people from traditional cultures and families who experience same sex desire without these motives, even against their own upbringing and will? 

    This suggests its something innate - developmental - persistent - instinct - various degrees of software from one sex being installed in the hardware of the other sex, the sexual dimorphism of the brain moving in the opposite direction as the dimorphism of the body.


    What causes the psychology of one sex to be hard wired into the brain of
    the opposite sex?  Does anyone know?  And if no one knows, can anyone
    explain how they know this always happens in a fixed proportion of
    people?   (Folks used to think autism was static, but now its on the
    rise.)  


    If the proportion of folks who do not feel attraction to the opposite
    sex passes a certain amount, human birth rates and survival will be
    at risk.  What is irrational or "homophobic" in seeing exclusive same sex
    preference as a type of psychologically induced reproductive/sexual
    disorder - affecting the species as a whole?

    If you knew
    the weed killer you were putting on your lawn would cause all your
    children to be born with girl brains in boy bodies or boy brains in girl
    bodies, would you keep using it?  Probably not.  In fact, the product would probably be banned.  (The children, the true victims in all of that, would be loved and accommodated in every way, rather than blamed for their problems, any more than children with autism, OCD, learning disabilities, or missing limbs.) 

    We don't need the Bible to teach us about sex.  Folks around the world have managed to figure things out on their own without it for years.  We need the Bible to teach us the mercy and love of God for our neighbors, the marginalized, oppressed, sick, and suffering, those neighbors who might be bearing burdens we will never bear nor understand.
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  • Pastor_Jim_B 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    A far greater "sin" is that Methodist pastors can bless weapons of mass destruction while being told not to bless loving, committed relationships between two people who are of the same sex. Despite the words of Jesus, Methodist pastors condone and bless divorced people who re-marry thereby enabling them in their adulterous relationship. How much more hypocritical will the church become? May God have mercy on us and forgive us.
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  • TheAuldWan 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    The man should leave the Methodist fold and unite with a group that picks and chooses at will what they condsider a sin. I still hate the fact that the homosexual movement has taken a perfectly good word, "gay"  and sort of removed it from my vocabulary. That was a queer thing to do!
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  • Patty1942 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    From my limited knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, I must conclude that God is not happy with gay marriage.  The following Scripture references clearly indicate that God is not pleased with gay and lesbian activity, and I believe, He consequently is not pleased with  gay marriage. Gen. 19:1-10; Lev. 18:22; Lev. 20:13; Rom. 1:26,27; 1 Cor. 6:9-11.  I urge you to read these verses with an honst and open mind, and I believe you too will conclude God is not pleased with same sex marriage.
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  • Kersten Juliann Leigh 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    "Bishop Dyck said.
    She is urging Minnesota United Methodists to follow Paul’s advice to the
    Colossians (3:12) and “hold each other close in the Spirit of Christ
    and demonstrate compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength and
    discipline.""

    As a committed United Methodist in a leadership role within the church I would like to suggest that Galatians 3:28 be used as a more appropriate response.
    "So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."  (Gal 3:26-28)
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  • aliceinwonder 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    As certified laity, I must emphatically say that staying true to The Book of Discipline is essential.  To waver from it is a violation of your oath and pledge to your church, the faith and to God.  The Constitution of the U.S. gives each individual the right to pursue happiness as they see fit.  There is nothing about group rights, which means anything the homosexuals demand as a group is unconstitutional and as we all know the constitution is based on natural law, which is God's law.  I see nothing positive in the Bible on homosexuality. Gays and lesbians have a legal right to live as they choose but do NOT have the right to redefine marriage for all of us.  Good men and women of faith have been left high and dry by those determined to place adult intimate sexual desires above the needs of children and religious liberties of everyday Americans.   Should the UMC ever decide to change The Book of Discipline to condone homosexuality, I will resign.  I will not belong to a false church.




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  • NMex 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Hey Betsy - if a Satanist came to your church and planted themselves in it and started preaching Satan would you just love them and celebrate them?  If a child predator came to your church and planted themselves in it would you love them and celebrate them?  If you can't discern sin in your midst and try to correct it then you are nothing more than a social club.  I have seen social clubs more discerning of erratic and harmful behavior than many UM churches.
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  • Creed Pogue 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    The Discipline is rather clear and Rev. Renstrom is on TV violating it.  Bishop Dyck should report what (if anything) she told Rev. Renstrom about possible consequences if he went ahead.  This is starting to sound like a repeat of the DeLong case where the bishops knew what was happening but decided to ignore it.  It is highly likely that this will result in mandatory penalties for chargeable offenses.
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  • John Donaldson 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand


    “Faith of our fathers,
    holy faith!


    We will be true to
    thee till death.”


     


    How long with Methodists be able to sing this song?




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  • PastorHal 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    You better watch out....the language police is going to get on to you for using the word "fathers."
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  • Meltone 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    The clear intent of the service was to bless the union of this same-sex couple and it is a violation of the Discipline statement against same-sex services. While I do not agree with this position, this call is not all that difficult to make once you remove its emotional components.  

    We are hopelessly divided on this issue (and many others for that matter) and rulings by bishops or any one else for that matter will not narrow that gap. The movement of the UM Church to the right in recent years has caused our moderate and liberal base to abandon us.  At the same time, we are not conservative enough to please the far right who quote scripture to support their political alliances while ignoring more critical issues of justice clearly spelled out by both Old and New Testament texts. Trying to maintain a position in the muddy middle will cause more folks to abandon the denomination.  

    Its time to do more than "rethink church." Its time to ask God to give birth to a church that is fresh and new.  It's time to ask God's Spirit to raise up a faith community that can speak with prophetic authority to a world in crisis. Only then will the church be a place of hope and grace for this world.
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  • SehoysDaughter 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    Absolutely! The bishop should have acted to stop this beforehand. Clearly there are those things that are addressed by the book of discipline and failure by bishops and clergy to follow their vows cannot be overlooked. As for Renstrom,  I understand the desire to reach out, but compassion, love and acceptance does not call for the abandonment of our basic beliefs.  Marriage is sacred and clearly defined. Let civil authorities conduct civil unions, but do not defile the sanctity of marriage.
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  • EquineMedic 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Just how does blessing the union of love defile the sanctity of marriage?
    I would say that you have a done a fine job of that yourself. You have mocked the word forever with divorce, abandoned your children to step parents, and have done a great job of loosing membership in the UMC for years.
    Yes, compassion, love and acceptance does cause us to  abandone basic beliefs. Especially when those belief deny the Love of Christ to those who come seeing Him.
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  • drbetsy 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    This past Sunday---our sermon text was  "Love the Lord your God"  and "Love your neighbor."   I travel 35 miles and pass probably within one mile of a dozen UMC's to worship at  Northaven UMC in Dallas.   At my church, we love everybody----and we celebrate everybody-----and someday, I hope that my denomination will also experience that all-encompassing love of Christ.    And, by the way, (in response to a comment listed below) I, also, am a Certified Lay Speaker..... Betsy Schenck
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  • jeffreyconn 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    hoping for a postive outcome.
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  • WorriedAboutOurDenomination 3 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    Marriage is defined by God as between a man and a woman.  There are many sins.  Homosexual relationships are one.  I don't believe that "gay couples" should suffer because they cannot oversee one anothers medical needs or share one anothers insurance or death benefits, etc.  Let their be some kind of civil union if that is what is required.  But it should not be called marriage.  And we should not have Pastors who are actively living a "gay" lifestyle any more than we should have a heterosexual Pastor in inappropriate sexual relationships. Should we have a church celebration to congratulate unmarried couples who live together.  Let's stop trying to rewrite the Bible and get on to God's work.  If Christ was on earth today, he would be living among and loving all people, but He would not change the Bible.
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  • Artcape 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    Thank you for expressing my thoughts better than I could have done. Marriage is definitely between a man and a woman otherwise it is an un-natural event. Two like species cannot reproduce and that is the sole purpose of any species therefore it is un-natural for the same sex to mate, they simply cannot reproduce. If you understand this no explanation is necessary and if you do not understand this no explanation is possible.
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  • erd8856 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Ridiculous, Artcape. What about heterosexual couples that are unable to have children biologically? Would you forbid them to marry?
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  • Lynne M 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    Wars, economy, starvation of millions and we are wasting time and money on a union of people in love.
    Interesting - sad
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  • tysdad14065 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand





    We need to
    love the sinner, not the sin. Do we support an alcoholic by telling him that it
    is ok to drink, and giving him alcohol? No we encourage him to stop the sin
    through love and support. Do we tell people just released from prison to go
    back to there lawless ways? The answer is simple if you do not over think it.

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  • eliza321 15 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    Rather than "civil disobedience," United Methodist pastors are starting to practice, "ecclesiastical disobedience."  The intent is the same:  to shine light on injustice and work toward justic and full inclusion of homosexual persons in the Christian community.  Our response should not be anger or outrage--instead we should seek a way forward that embraces all people as having equal and sacred worth to our Creator and our community.
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  • John Mize 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    We can welcome them, and help them work toward overcoming their sin, if they truly mean to repent.  But our creator does not condone homosexuality, therefore when an ordained minister blesses a union in a civil ceremony, then he is breaking church law and God's instructions to us in the bible:  Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, 1 Corinthians 6:1-10,  Romans I: 26-28.  The scriptures are unequivocal on this matter.
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  • HHH_AAA 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    "sacred worth" is not the issue in this debate. The issue is sin and our acceptance of it, and the place of the Bible in our articulation of Christian doctrine. If by calling something sin, we believe that we are denigrating a person's sacred worth, then we ought to get rid of the Bible and our entire BOD, as both books do that.
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  • RickSlv 12 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    The Book of Discipline explicitly states "all persons are of sacred worth."  That is not the issue.  The issue is sin, and our acceptance of it.

    The United Methodist Church affirms the authority of scripture, and scripture says "you shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination" and "a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh".  Those who see God's Holy Word as "injustice" and disrespect it in the name of "civil and ecclesiastical disobedience" must be shown the door.

    Otherwise we can all ignore the tenets of the Church do whatever we feel like doing in the name of "civil disobedience."
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  • RevSgt 4 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    Yes, the Bible says "you shall not lie with a male as with a woman." But it also says: "...you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed; nor shall you put on a garment made of two different materials." Do we hold United Methodist farmers to this rule. And, I am currently wearing a shirt that is 60% cotton and 40% polyester. Should I not be a member of the United Methodist clergy? Am I condemned?

    The Bible also says: "You shall not round off the hair on your temples or mar the edges of your beard." Well, I trim my goatee regularly, so I guess that's bad, too.

    Further, it says: "shall not make any gashes in your flesh for the dead or tattoo any marks upon you," which seems to mean that my daughter (who has a tattoo that reads: "Faith, Hope, Love") is also on the wrong end of the law.

    While we are on the "law-and-order" bandwagon, let's not forget that the Bible says: "When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien." Seems we had better look at making some great change sin our immigration policy.

    Moving on, the Bible says: "If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death." Wow! I suppose those in favor of the death penalty would really like this one!

    Let's face it, the Bible was written by well-meaning men a long time ago, who were doing their best to interpret what they felt was the “will of God.” But do we actually believe that they had any inkling that their words would be canonized and last for thousands of years – unchallenged?

    The Apostle Paul, for all his good and not so good points, believed that the Earth was flat, for heaven's sake! Do we? Are we willing to continue living a faith that was valid in the First Century (and earlier) given all that we have come to discover in the intervening centuries?

    If nothing else, the simple fact that we have science, psychology, sociology, etc. should prove to us that God loves us enough to have given us minds with curiosity – minds able to discover and learn – minds enabling us to go forward in life AND in faith. The Christian faith is not, nor has it ever been, static.
    Finally, before you go telling me that I am "picking and choosing what to believe from the Bible," you're right. I DO pick and choose, as do we all, which should be witnessed from the scripture references above.

    Jesus came, challenging the beliefs of his day. And he called us to follow in his footsteps.
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  • tsidohtem 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    If you are unable to understand the difference between a moral law - "you shall not lie with a male as with a woman" - and a cultural, civil law -  "you shall not sow your fields with 2 kinds of seed" - your understanding of hermeneutics will certainly lead you to all kinds of faulty interpretations.  Who  said "the Scripture is our all-sufficient rule of faith and conduct"?  The writers of Scripture probably did not have any inkling that their words would be canonized and last for thousand of years - unchallenged - but God knew.  It is God's Word.
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  • feslop 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Ah yes, since we can make the Bible say anything we want, why not ignore it altogether?  The church, consistent with every reference to homosexual behaviors, refuses to affirm those behaviors. Those include 4 clear references, which are 4 more references than Jesus made to child sacrifice, incest or bestiality (other behaviors rejected in the notorious Leviticus references that refer to same sex behavior)...I doubt his silence on these subjects also suggests possible tolerance. Those regularly engaging in same-sex sodomy have 4 times the national incidents of colorectal cancer, 17 the rate of anal cancer, plus a decreased longevity rate. And, as  a recent lead article in the NYTimes magazine points out, the definition of 'fidelity' as used within the gay community does not typically include limiting oneself to a single sexual parter, but rather setting mutually agreed policies with the primary partner about how and when (not if) sex outside the commitment happens. So the Times piece concludes that gay marriage can be a gift to straights by helping us loosen our up-tight approach to subjects like faithfulness, which is the real 'unnatural' behavior for males.
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  • HHH_AAA 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    the idea of challenging everything in the Bible on the premise that "Jesus challenged" has the potential of leaving us faithless - as we could end challenging Jesus himself - I fear that's where we are headed.
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  • RevSgt 3 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    Yes, the scripture says "you shall not lie with a male as with a woman." But it also says, "When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien..." Do all United Methodist farmers follow this rule?
    It also says: "You shall not round off the hair on your temples or mar the edges of your beard." Uh-oh, I trim my goatee regularly... And, it says: "You shall not make any gashes in your flesh for the dead or tattoo any marks upon you." Wow! Now my daughter (who has a tattoo that reads: "Faith, Hope, Love") is breaking the law.
    Or, how about: "When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt." Hmm... we may need to rethink our immigration policies.
    Or...: "All who curse father or mother shall be put to death; having cursed father or mother, their blood is upon them." Would any of us have survived into adulthood?
     And, lastly (in this post, but certainly not the last Biblical reference): "If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death." Are we ready to enact this beauty?

    Let's face it, the Bible was written long ago by those who were doing the best they could to interpret what was best for the people. I believe they had little intention of creating a document that would lest for thousands of years. The Apostle Paul, for all his good and not so good points, believed that the Earth was flat, for heaven's sake! Do we honestly  wish to continue living our faith as if we understood the world in the same way as those in the first century or earlier? Have we not learned anything of value in the past 20 centuries?

    Just asking...
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  • tysdad14065 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Thats Old testament. Are we following the law? No.
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  • David Wehrle 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    But you aren't listening. You quote case law for Israel and instructions for the Church in the same breath. This is misleading. I hope you do not do this with your congregation. Case law was for the establishment of Israel - an example nation which was to demonstrate what righteous living before God looked like in ancient Palestine. Of course, complete righteousness on our own and without the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit is impossible. This we learn from our own experience and from Scripture like the third chapter of Romans.

    I am sorry that we differ on our personal opinions of what behavior is holy and acceptable to God. People of faith have always debated these things and always will. Even those of us who accept that the Bible is authoritative for Christians disagree.

    What I find most difficult to accept about your position is the ease and arrogance with which you set aside "Paul" (Scripture) and place yourself in authority. There are uncomfortable references in Scripture about this type of behavior as well, for example, "...everyone did was was right in their own eyes..."

    Actually, though, if you are an ordained United Methodist pastor, I feel that you are breaking your ordination vows in continuing to hold the low view of scripture that you do. Article V of the Articles of Religion which you have vowed to uphold and teach and live by states: 

    "The Holy Scriptures containeth all things necessary to salvation; so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man that it should be believed as an article of faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation."

    And, Article IV of the Confession of Faith states that the Bible "reveals the Word of God... and is.. the true rule and guide for faith and practice."

    I'm sorry that you don't agree with those positions. I'm sorry that you cannot accept some of Paul's teachings. But, if that is the case, at least show some self respect and surrender your credentials and leave the covenant we have made as Elders. I don't see how you are continuing to uphold it.

    In closing, there are other churches with views like your own that would be a better fit for you. We will continue to love others truly and deeply by not allowing them to continue in lifestyles and behaviors that harm their loving relationship with others and particularly with God. And, we will search the Scriptures (a means of grace endorsed by John Wesley) to determine what is best for our relationships and our churches. We will not pretend that United Methodist Clergy are somehow more spiritually enlightened than the rest of the Church. We will simply dedicate ourselves to the study of Scripture and the prayerful teaching and living out of God's Word. You may continue to do what is right in your own eyes and elevate yourself above the authority of Scripture, but please do not do that in the United Methodist Church.
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  • erd8856 4 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    Since you as so insistent on "the authority of Scripture," RickSlv, I sure as heck hope you don't eat shellfish, and check the tag on the back of your shirt. Let's hope it's not a blend of fabrics. Or perhaps we should condone slavery, which the Bible affirms. How about the subordination of women, RickSlv?
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  • RickSlv 3 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    Erd8856 and RevSgt,

    Our religious beliefs are informed by Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Experience.  That is basically true of other denominations, but Methodism is different because in the United Methodist Church *scripture is primary*.

    For that reason, it is important for Methodists to be biblically literate.  It is important for us to read passages in their historical and literary contexts.  It important for us to attend Bible studies and earnestly seek to understand God's will, rather than to use God's Holy Word to justify our own worldly whims and preferences.

    For example, there is no problem at all with us eating shellfish.  In Leviticus 11, God gave dietary laws to the Israelites, including a restriction on shellfish.  Those were Old Testament instructions to the Ancient Hebrews.  But in the New Testament, in Mark 7:18-19, Jesus declared all foods clean.  http://www.biblegateway.com/pa...

    On the other hand, the Bible is very clear about homosexuality.  It is forbidden over and over again in both the Old and the New Testament.

    Yes, Methodists are "insistent on 'the authority of Scripture'."  There are lots of other denominations that are not, but Methodists are.
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  • erd8856 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    Those two examples of levitical law that both I and RevSgt referenced were just two of several, as you know. Many of those laws aren't directly addressed or "reversed" in the NT. What then? I find it interesting you didn't address my other two points, slavery and the subjection of women, both of which Paul, or authors writing as Paul, defend at times. How do you justify that? It is also quite hyperbolic to insist that homosexuality is "forbidden over and over again in both the Old and the New Testament." There are perhaps two places that directly speak to same-sex sexual activity in the NT, Romans 1:26-27 being the one used primarily against LGBT folk. Walter Wink, professor and author of Transforming Bible Study, examines that text in length here: http://www.soulforce.org/artic...

    Of course as Methodists we must be Biblically literate. I completely agree; as a Methodist clergyperson-in-training, I hold the Scriptures in high regard. However, clearly we have very different understandings of the nature of Biblical revelation. What the discussion (which is unfortunately often mean-spirited) over this issue in our UMC makes me wonder is how we journey together and not question the faithfulness of the other? RickSlv, I honor your understanding of Scripture and commitment to that perspective, even though I strongly disagree. I guess my question is then: now what?
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  • RickSlv 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    If you are a Methodist, the answer is contained in the Book of Discipline:

    • The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider this practice incompatible with Christian teaching.
    • self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.
    • Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches.

    I followed your link to the page with the banner "We seek freedom from religious and political oppression for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning people."  It says "Where the Bible mentions homosexual behavior at all, it clearly condemns it.  I freely grant that.  The issue is precisely whether that Biblical judgment is correct."

    To my way of thinking, "holding the Scriptures in high regard" and simultaneously claiming that your judgement trumps Biblical judgment is a contradiction.  Those two things are mutually exclusive; you can do one or the other, but not both.

    We obviously don't have space to do an entire Bible study here, so no, I can't address every piece of scripture that you cite.  But I can say that there is no problem whatsoever with Christians wearing "a blend of fabrics."  Slavery and the subjection of women are important points, and reading the Bible in its proper historical context can definitely help.

    The bottom line is that "The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality."  There can be no debate about that.  It is spelled out right in the Book of Discipline.

    The Episcopal Church - and other Churches - view this issue differently.  Maybe the answer is that we DON'T "journey together."  Perhaps the answer is that we both simply worship in the denomination that aligns with our "understanding of Scripture."  I don't know, maybe that is why God created denominations that match both your perspective and mine.

    Blessings.
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  • Marilee Johnson 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    I wonder if there was any other way for the cabinet to deal with this.  Might it have been ignored?  The language surrounding whether or not this was a "marriage" is too vague.  Other than that I am a liberal feminist who believes all people should have the right to love and commit to whom they love without discrimination.  Marilee Johnson, Prospect Park UMC
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  • RickSlv 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    If "Renstrom reported to Bishop Dyck in advance that he planned to conduct the blessings" why didn't Bishop Dyck take action immediately?We know that there are a small number of unscrupulous clergy who are going to have to be defrocked over this.  But it is now becoming clear that we need to also hold our bishops more accountable when they look the other way.
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  • reithien 3 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    Why as a certified lay speaker, should I even have an opinion about this.  Of course, I am not an elder and will never be a Bishop.  What is the truth in the United Methodist church; or the discipline; or from some what is relavent about the Bible.  There seem to be so many ideas today, but what is the truth?   Instead of Christ, I see a lot of you got to do it my way.  Please, in church is sung-"Built on the rock the Church doeth stand!"  But a lot of what I see or read concerning our church and even our government and society-"Send in the clowns" seems quite adequate. Perhaps I am the biggest clown of all for thinking that Christ was to be the center of my life.
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  • tysdad14065 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Your no clown my brother. It seems to me that we are over thinking this issue. We need to love the sinner, not the sin. Do we
    support an alcoholic by telling him that it is ok to drink, and giving him
    alcohol? No, we encourage him to stop the sin through love and support. Do we
    tell people just released from prison to go back to there lawless ways? The
    answer is simple if you do not over think it
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  • reithien 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    I wish that all who read the above rambling entry would forgive me for its general tone and lack of displaying the Christ that is in me.  I talked with my pastor this morning and as usual the Holy Spirit was in her every word.  I am sorry, the United Methodist Church has been my home for many years, and God has used so many people to help me with questions.  I wish to thank all that write here irregardless of what you say.  May God bless you all.
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  • feslop 3 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    Chesterton said that calling a leg a tail does not turn a leg into a tail.  So, for example, if a church calls a pastor's pay cut a pay hike, does that make a pay cut into a pay hike?  The 'blessing of mutually reverent relationships' appears to be a way of calling a blessing of a same-sex union something else, while everyone knows what it really is (wink, wink, nod, nod).  How will the energy and passion the conference undoubtedly will pour into this situation  remedy the consistent decline in attendance and the vanishing number of younger families from Minnesota UM churches?
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  • gracemonger 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    God bless all United Methodist pastors and bishops who rise above the clamor of judgment and hatred that continues toward the LGBT community, and toward those truly pastoral clergy who offer Christ's love and grace to all! This denomination's obsession with this issue is mind-boggling; it's time for us all to see that our own glass houses are in order, and leave the judgment duties in God's extremely capable hands...lest our unchecked self-righteousness finds us in line for the harshest judgment of all!
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  • Scott M 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    You comment about all the attention given to the issue.  However, it is not the conservatives that are trying to rewrite the BOD to fit their own comfort level. The BODs current stance homosexuality is appropriate.  Every four years, the conservatives are not clamoring to raise the bar and slam the door in the face of homosexuals.  It is the secular movement of homosexual rights advocates trying to get the UMC to kowtow to their wishes in order that another denomination can be placed on their mantle as an award for how right their little movement is.
    It is a small group of militant, mainly secular advocates trying to turn homosexuality from an undesirable sin to a "lifestyle".  When I became a Christian, I confessed my sins, and at age 26, the list was LONG!  At conversion, we ask God to enter in, clean out the sin, and make us new creations, striving always toward holiness and even...dare I say...perfection.  Today's movement of LBGT advocates is looking to make the Church into ITS image, not God's. 
    So far, they've donw a pretty good job.  They got the UCC, PCUSA, and ELCA.  These look good in their trophy case.  But Methodism is and has always been a holiness movement of God.  So now, ecclesiastical disobedience will become far more commonplace.  What God has created with the help of John Wesley, is likely to be divided by people who "hate" holiness.
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