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Retired Clergy Come Out of The Closet To Assist In "Unholy Homosexual Reunion" At Trial

From: "U.M. Cornet"
CORNET has received this communication:

Friends -

Twenty retired United Methodist clergy from the New England Conference have expressed their willingness to co-officiate at covenant services for same-gender couples and have invited other retired clergy in New England to join them. They have also expressed their intention to seek the removal of the prohibition against conducting same-gender covenant services from the Book of Discipline at the next General Conference.

A statement explaining their stance, "Blessing Same Gender Covenants," follows. The statement has been printed in the New England Conference newspaper, CROSSCURRENTS, and the clergy are open to having the statement printed and used by others as might be helpful.


Blessing Same Gender Covenants September 10, 1999

We emeriti clergy members of the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church wish to explain our support of blessing same-gender covenants for persons who request that of their pastors.

We are troubled that in our current social landscape homophobia grips our people. The language of hate and actions of violence express contempt for the thoughts, feelings, and space of others. We fear people we take little time to know. We fail to listen carefully to our sisters and brothers. We believe the compassion of Christ needs to be experienced by all people, and especially in our church through our pastors and our congregations.

An issue which has become increasingly divisive across our church is that of gender-orientation. We believe that gender-orientation is a divine gift. We believe that every child of God deserves to be treated with respect and challenged to become fully the person God is creating. We believe that the Church has a singular role in nurturing that process.

Through changing times our mission as United Methodists has been constantly challenged. We are called to offer an open and inclusive ministry. Our theology has mandated a prophetic response to our pastoral calling. Our founder, John Wesley, claimed the world as his parish. Wesley, himself in the midst of cultural change, exercised a splendid conciliatory spirit: "Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may. Herein all the children of God may unite, notwithstanding [our] smaller differences. These remaining as they are, they may forward one another in love and in good works."*

We believe loving covenants between persons are rich and wholesome acts. We are called now and again as United Methodist pastors to preside over blessing ceremonies as diverse as the needs of the persons in our care. We are free, in Christ's name, to offer - or refrain from offering -blessings of homes, of families, of journeys, even of pets. At this point we are forbidden to offer a blessing upon the covenant of faithfully shared love between persons of same gender. (Not every United Methodist Pastor is required to offer this particular blessing, but every United Methodist Pastor must be free to follow the leading of Christ's Spirit in making this decision.) The very authority of our ministry finds its empowerment through this freedom.

We therefore covenant with one another to co-officiate when called upon by other clergy-members of our Conference for the sake of pastoral care for all God's people. We believe God is calling us to faithfulness in this ministry. While we respect the conscience of those who cannot join us, we prayerfully believe that our own conviction, both as Christians and as United Methodist clergy, allows us no other course of action.

We further join with other lay and clergy members of United Methodist Conferences across our country seeking the removal of the Judicial Council Ruling (Paragraph 65.C, 1996 Book of Discipline, The United Methodist Church) at the next General Conference of the Church.

* from John Wesley's Sermon XXXIV "Catholic Spirit," published 1750. Current in John "Wesley's Fifth-three Sermons" p. 493.

Richard E. Harding, Marie Bent, William C. Coleman, Earle R. Custer, Paul K. Deats, Jr., F. Oliver Drake, Walter G. Hartley, Donald B. Hoyle, Evan R. Johnson, Franklin E. Kooker, John H. Lavely, Peter L. Misner, Sally P. Poland, Ruth E. S. Robinson, Robert Sammons, Donella Siktberg, Harry Soper,Jr., Robert L. Treese, Wayne Underhill, Thomas C. Whitehouse

We welcome and invite other emeriti members of the New England Conference to add their signatures to ours above.

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