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Rebel Pastor Invites Retired Clergy to Participate in Calculated Disobedience

St. Mark's United Methodist Church

2391 St. Mark's Way † Sacramento, CA 95864
Telephone (916) 483-7848
Fax No. (916) 483-7840

October 21, 1998


   Donald H. Fado
   Janice Dahl
   David S. Hinshaw
   Carolyn S. Hinshaw

Music Directors &
Program Associates
Jean Strathdee
   Jim Strathdee

Director of Youth &
Young Adult Ministries
Christy Smith

   Cynthia Lawrence


TO:          Retired clergy of Cal-Nevada Conference
FROM:    Don Fado

Enclosed is a copy of a sermon I recently preached at St. Mark's explaining my decision to conduct a service of holy union as an act of ecclesiastical disobedience. I am writing to invite you to join with me in co-officiating at the service for Jeanne Barnett and Ellie Chariton tentatively scheduled at 1:00 p.m., Saturday, January 16, 1999 in Sacramento. Jeanne and Ellie have been together for almost 15 years, but have never had a service to share their vows of fidelity and commitment to each other.  Jeanne is our Conference Lay Leader and has been chair of both St. Mark's Administrative Board and Staff-Parish Relations Committee. Ellie is presently on thc Conference Board of Trustees. There are already 15 of us who have agreed to co-officiate and we hope to have at least 50.

I am writing this to retired clergy for I believe that we "seasoned" clergy (I'm 65 this year) have a responsibility to stand up and be counted on behalf of our younger colleagues who have much more to lose in terms of their career. There could be a trial for our disobedience but I cannot imagine a group of our peers in this Annual Conference defrocking us for our refusal to go along with a section of the Social Principles -especially if we have over 50 participating. The larger the group the safer it is for each participant.

You need to be aware of a worse case scenario. According to Grady Knowles, if we were all ousted from the Annual Conference we would no longer be a part of the Conference insurance plan. However, our pension is something we earned in the past and is ours regardless of Conference membership. The worst, the Board of Pensions could do to us would be to grant us no future increases voted by the Conference for  pre-1982 service, although the present Board of Pensions' policy is to grant such increases regardless of Conference membership.

I'm willing to risk this as are many of our colleagues. We need to send a clear message to the General Conference of the disastrous consequences of withholding ministries to any group of people. Please give this matter prayerful consideration and if you decide to co-official please phone or fax me of your intention. The United Methodist News Service is releasing a story on this to the press next Monday, October 26. It would be helpful to know how many we have with us by 10:30 a.m. Monday when I am to phone them with the information, but of course we'll be eager to get names of co-officiants at any time. (The names of the co-officiants will not be divulged to the press until thc ceremony.) If you cannot be with us on Jan.16th we can list you as a "co-officiant in absentia"

Pray for our church - and for us.

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