Texas Pastor Proclaims Bishop's Response to Gay Wedding is Part of the Problem
"Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions, and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them." Romans 16:17 NASB
Dear members and friends of Casa Linda,
In obedience to Jesus' claims on my life, I continue to seek to keep you informed about the happenings in the United Methodism. Although it may seem that the issue is homosexuality, the real issue is the sovereignty of God and the authority of His revelation. Another important aspect of our present struggle is that we must not only proclaim the true holiness of our God but we must also live out His love toward all. The events in Laramie, Wyoming earlier this month are not a true representation of the truth proclaimed in Jesus Christ. What was done to Matthew Shepherd was an abomination before the Lord. Our jurisprudence system must be worked through, and judgment meted out. Those who say that homosexuality is compatible with Christian teaching are wrong. Those who say "God hates Fags" are wrong. Both statements are contrary to the character of love and holiness found in perfect unity with one another in the Lord, the God of all places and all times.
This week through a number of news releases, I have become aware of another same-sex union performed by a United Methodist pastor. On September 19, Reverend Gregory Dell, pastor of Broadway UMC in Chicago, held a same-sex union ceremony for two men. On October 12, Bishop C. Joseph Sprague, Bishop of the Northern Illinois Annual Conference, filed a judicial complaint against Rev. Dell. The matter is now before the annual conference's Committee of Investigation which must either dismiss the complaint or file charges against Rev. Dell that may lead to a church trial.
What Rev. Dell did is forbidden by the Discipline of the United Methodist Church. This was clearly decided by the Judicial Council of the United Methodist Church in August. Rev. Dell clearly violated the instructions of the Discipline.
Rev. Dell had clearly made known in the September edition of his church's newsletter that he would not change his practice of thirty years of performing same-sex unions even after the Judicial Council decision. Also, in that edition of the newsletter, it was announced that Bishop Sprague, who "has been an outspoken supporter of rights for gay, lesbian and bi-sexual persons in the Church" (Broadway UMC September Newsletter), would preach at Broadway UMC on October 4. In the complaint filed by Bishop Sprague, he says, "Therefore, despite my high regard for the Reverend Dell, as a person of integrity, who possesses an enviable record of pastoral faithfulness and effectiveness, my evaluation of The Reverend Dell as an exceptional pastor, and my own theological and pastoral disagreement with this component of church law, I do hereby file a formal complaint against the Reverend Gregory R. Dell...." (http://www.brdwyumc.org/compliant.htm).
I am gravely concerned about Reverend Dell's actions, but I am more concerned about Bishop Sprague's actions. He seemed to do nothing about a situation he should have known about. In a newsletter that announced he would preach at Broadway UMC, it was also announced that the pastor would defy church law. On October 4, he preached at Broadway after the pastor had violated church law. Eight days after he preached at Broadway, he filed charges against the pastor of Broadway which was three weeks after the violation had occurred. And in his complaint, Bishop Sprague explicitly states his "disagreement with this component of church law." It seems to me that this Bishop seeks to move United Methodism to a view that is not the view espoused in the scriptures.
I encourage you to do two things at this point. First, PRAY, PRAY, PRAY. Pray for revival, a return to holiness and love, for our Bishop, Bishop Oden, for me and our church. I also encourage you to write Bishop Oden immediately. You may even choose to fax him a letter. The Council of Bishops meets this week. In your letter encourage him to take a strong advocacy for scriptural holiness and Christianity. Urge him to confront Bishop Sprague concerning his public support for same-sex unions in his complaint against Reverend Dell. Tell him that you will continue to monitor this and other situations where scriptural holiness and Christianity are compromised. Bishop Oden's fax number is 214-528-4435. His address is P. O. Box 600127, Dallas, TX 75360.
Attached to this letter is information I have pulled off the information super highway. At the bottom of each page is the URL. We have numbered the pages in the bottom right hand corner. Pages 1& 2 is the official news release from the United Methodist News Service. Pages 3 & 4 is a news release from Broadway UMC. Page 5 is a copy of the official compliant by Bishop Sprague as found on the Broadway UMC web page. Pages 6,7 & 8 are from the Broadway UMC web page. Pages 9 & 10 contain the article "Denomination Bans Holy Union Services" from the September edition of the Broadway UMC newsletter. Page 11 is the article that announces that Bishop Sprague will preach at Broadway UMC.
Grace and Peace,
Joe S. Florence, Pastor
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