UM "Faithful Christian Laity" Challenge Bishop Over Official District Promotion Of Homosexuality Event
February 10, 2003
Bishop Elias Galvan
2112 Third Avenue, Suite 301
Seattle, WA 98121-2333
Dear Bishop Galvan:
As The Faithful Christian Laity of the United Methodist Church (FCL), we are increasingly concerned about the integrity of the covenant relationships into which we have all -- both laity and clergy -- freely and consciously entered as United Methodist Christians. We are genuinely sorry to acknowledge a growing sense among many in our ranks of the progressive unraveling of those covenant relationships by which we are constituted as United Methodists.
In particular, we were disappointed to receive promotional notices for a February 16, 2003 "Gathering of PNW Conference Reconciling United Methodists" at Des Moines United Methodist Church from the Puget Sound District Office. A copy of the notice, which was circulated by e-mail in the Puget Sound District and from there to other churches and Districts -- is attached for your review. Also enclosed is a copy of the "Spirit of the Puget Sound District of the UMC" newsletter, which also advertises this event.
It is unlikely that you are surprised to learn of our unease with these developments. We are frankly grieved over activities in our Annual Conference that support and encourage homosexual activities, in direct contradiction to the Book of Discipline and the Christian faith. We are acutely concerned that this "Reconciling" event represents yet another schismatic breach of those covenantal vows into which we enter at baptism, confirmation, upon reception in the United Methodist Church, and in the case of the clergy involved, the vows made in Ordination as Elders.
In the light of such actions and attitudes among our clergy, we are not surprised to hear of other expressions of the disintegration of our covenant relationships, i.e. the failure of an increasing number of our congregations to pay their full apportionments. In the light of recent events and activities, many among the laity find it richly disingenuous for the PNWAC Cabinet to promote full payment of apportionments in the name of our covenantal vows, connectionalsim, and appropriate participation in the missional activities of the wider United Methodist Church. All of this is an unfortunate development that impedes the common ministry of our Pacific Northwest Annual Conference.
Indeed, we are at a loss to understand how it is that "reconciling" activities such as those planned for February 16 at Des Moines UMC, plainly contrary to the Christian Faith as expressed by the General Conference (and thus the binding directives of the Book of Discipline), can be both passively and actively promoted by those on your Cabinet, not to mention the pastors involved. This plainly constitutes an egregious instance of dissemination of doctrines contrary to the established standards of doctrine of the United Methodist Church, and thus also disobedience to the Order and Discipline of the United Methodist Church. The specter of failure to exercise appropriate pastoral authority in this instance could be a failure to perform the work of ministry (cf. 2000 BOD P. 2702).
We write to make a formal request that you personally investigate the materials that are going to be used and the event scheduled for February 16 at Des Moines United Methodist Church. As our Bishop, we ask that you would evaluate whether or not the planned activities and teachings adhere to Biblical teachings and the mandates of The Book of Discipline. If not, we of course expect you to use your considerable authority to effect the cancellation of the event so that no further resources of the UMC are used to disseminate doctrines contrary to the established standards of doctrine of the United Methodist Church.
We write this letter to you because we genuinely trust that as our Bishop you are a person of truth, integrity, and authentic Christian character. We sincerely want to believe that you take seriously the sacredness of the covenants into which we United Methodists -- both laity and clergy -- have deliberately entered.
In particular, in accord with the Episcopal vows which you took in 1984, we wish you to know that you are the subject of our earnest prayers and full support as you not only "accept" but also transmit, teach, and proclaim the doctrines and discipline of our United Methodist Church, as well as "guard the faith, order, liturgy, doctrine and discipline of the Church against all that is contrary to God's Word" (BOW p. 703; cf. BOD P. 414). Again, you have our full support. We harbor no envy of the Episcopal office to which you have been called by God to exercise.
We look forward to hearing of the results of your investigation prior to February 14, 2003. Please send a brief summary of your findings to us in writing. You may direct them to us care of Cathy Bihler. Please call her at (phone # edited out) when they are ready. She will be happy to come by the Annual Conference office to pick them up and, at our own expense, they can be disseminated to the rest of us.
Ms. Cathy A. Bihler
On behalf of The Steering Committee of
The Faithful Christian Laity of the United Methodist Church
David Battey, Snoqualmie
Cathy Bihler, Edmonds
Kathy Cosner, Bremerton
Byron Fitch, Ritzville
Angel Manuel Fitzpatrick, Jr., Fairfield
Connie Gent, Burlington
Howie Schwend, Mill Creek
Don Shoemake, North Bend
CC: Rev. Ann E. Berney, Pastor, Des Moines UMC
Members of the Cabinet
Council of Bishops of the UMC
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