ERF Reports of News Conference and Worship Responds to Mass Disobedience
Subject: Friday - January 15 - Report
This past Friday, The ERF held a news conference and worship service as part of our response to the "same-sex union" that was held on Saturday, Jan. 16 in Sacramento. The ERF response was held in Yuba City, a last minute change due to some communication misunderstanding. For any inconvenience this caused some folk, we apologize.
The press conference was held at 11:00 a.m. Most of the major TV channels from Sacramento were present, some radio people and print media. Some sixty plus people from several United Methodist congregations were present. Included were a pastor from Dallas, Texas and a pastor and his daughter from Marietta, Georgia.
The press conference began with the reading of a prepared statement by the Rev. John Sheppard II, senior pastor of First UMC in Yuba City. After that time was given for the media to ask questions. Responses were given by Pastor Sheppard and by Rev. Harry Wood, Pastor of First UMC in Visalia, and president of the ERF. Later several brief one on one interviews were conducted by the media.
At 2:00 p.m. a worship service was held with more than one hundred persons present to praise God in music and song. Singing was led by the praise music team from First UMC in UMC after an opening prayer by Pastor Sheppard. Rev. Peter Cremer guided the congregation in prayer. Rev. Harry Wood brought a message based on the text in John 8 where Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in adultery, but told her "go and sin no more."
The emphasis throughout the day was on love and concern for those who practice homosexuality which is no more sinful than any other sin. The authority of Scripture was stressed as was the rule of the church found in The Book of Discipline.
THE ERF POSITION STATEMENT THAT WAS READ
Tomorrow, Don Fado and a group of our colleagues in the California-Nevada Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church will perform a "Holy Union" ceremony to bless the relationship of Jeanne Barnett and Ellie Charlton. The purpose of the ceremony is to "affirm and celebrate" a relationship which the Bible and United Methodist Church law describe as sinful. In light of this event, the members of the Evangelical Renewal Fellowship want our friends and neighbors in Northern California to know where the United Methodist Church stands on these matters.
By conducting such a ceremony, our friends are violating the teaching of Scripture, the polity of our denomination and more than 2,000 years of Christian moral tradition. Most of the world-wide Christian community today is shocked and dismayed by their flaunting of the conventional moral wisdom of the Church
There are two foundations for the position of the Evangelical Renewal Fellowship in opposing this ceremony, The Holy Bible and The United Methodist Church Discipline:
THE HOLY BIBLE
The Bible is consistent throughout in its elevation of the relationship of marriage between a man and a woman as being the God-blessed arena for human sexual expression. Only heterosexual preference and behavior patterns are approved in Scripture as conforming to God's plan in the creation of man and woman. All sexual behavior is to take place in the context of marriage. Sex is considered good so long as it takes place within these parameters. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh." (Gen. 2:24)
Sex outside of marriage is disallowed: "You shall not commit adultery." Ex. 20:14)
Homosexual activity is disallowed: "Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman." (Lev. 18:22)
The New Testament lists homosexual practice as sin: "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders." (1 Cor. 6:9)
We believe in the Holy Bible as God's Word for us in this broken and hurting world in which we live. The Word gives us instruction, guidance and inspiration for living well. We believe that in that Word come these affirmations: that "we all fall short of the glory of God;" that the behavior of homosexuality is a sin that saddens our Heavenly Father, but is no greater sin )i.e. gossip, stealing, adultery, etc.); and that the transforming power of Jesus Christ in our lives can meet us where we are and bring us to where God wants us to be - whole, healed, redeemed children of God.
We believe that sex is sacred and a gift from God intended for one man and one woman in a loving marriage relationship as long as both are alive.
THE DISCIPLINE OF THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
The United Methodist Discipline states, "Although we do not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider this practice incompatible with Christian teaching, we affirm that God's grace is available to all." (Discipline, p. 87, Par.C)
We are called by the United Methodist Church to "fidelity in marriage and celibacy in singleness."
We believe that now is a time for all United Methodists, in Northern California and around the world, to stand firmly together to contend for the faith. We ask that our brothers and sisters in other denominations pray for us and encourage our members to stay and fight "the good fight of faith." (I Timothy 6:12)
We, as both clergy and laity of the United Methodist Church in the Evangelical renewal Fellowship, oppose the planned ceremony to bless any homosexual couple as if it were a true marriage. It violates the Discipline and the tenets of faith of the United Methodist Church. We will continue to teach the Bible, share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and welcome everyone to worship the Savior with us.
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