Pro-homosexuality AMARites Smart From The "Piercing" Word Of God Spoken By Bishop
How Long, Oh Lord?
It was a difficult thing to listen to our brother Bishop Rev. Dr. Arthur F. Kulah. Kulah maligned us during worship on Wednesday. For those who did not hear him, Bishop Kulah argued that the church is called to make disciples who will obey the authority of the Bible, but that homosexuals, at Satan's behest, choose to disobey that authority, setting themselves outside of Christianity. When the Church pays attention to them [our] demands, it abuses the authority of the Bible, which speaks unequivocally against homosexuality. "To ordain homosexuals," Bishop Kulah proclaimed, "is to ruin the hearts and lives of the church and hence the world."
We've heard this argument before, directed at us, and, with small changes, at our black brothers and sisters, at our clergy woman sisters, at people who have been enslaved, shut out or judged "indecent" [Bishop Kulah's words] for some God-given aspect of their identity.
We hope that Bishop Kulah, and those who would agree with his analysis, will go on to think long and hard about his own conclusion: When you obey God, you would love the unlovable. When you obey God, you would forgive the unforgivable. When you obey God, as King put it, you would not judge people on the color of their skin [or, we add, the direction of their sexual orientation] but by the content of their character.
Meanwhile, we listen hard for a pastoral word of love, welcome, or support from those who preach to us at General Conference. How long, oh Lord?
AMAR Press Conference
The AMAR coalition is here! We're hard at work to help the United Methodist Church become welcoming-in policy and practice-of gay, lesbians, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) persons and their families. The coalition groups are involved in significant strategies and witnesses at General Conference. This column will appear daily in the publications of the coalition member groups to keep you informed of our progress to influence legislation.
On Tuesday, the coalition hosted a luncheon to introduce itself to the press. Over 50 people attended the briefing, including religious and secular reporters, and coalition volunteers and supporters. The meeting highlighted the newest member of the coalition: United Methodists of Color for a Fully Inclusive Church. Gil Caldwell, pastor of Park Hill UMC in Denver, and Dan Vera, Field Coordinator of RCP, spearheaded the formation of this group, which already includes over 60 persons of color from around the world who have signed a statement calling the church to end the injurious policies toward GLBT persons.
Pastor Caldwell thanked the coalition for its formation and for reaching out to include people of color who too often have been ignored by liberal movements within the church. He related the African American community's struggle for inclusion to the GLBT struggle. Yet, Rev. Caldwell also noted the irony of some African Americans who use scripture as a basis for discrimination just as it has been used against them to justify racism. The time has come, he said, to answer the question: What would Jesus do?
"Those who are theologically sophisticated may think that question is too simple," Pastor Caldwell said. "But we as a church need to ask the question. What in fact would this Jesus of history do? I believe that our statement speaks to that in a very real way."
Other coalition coordinating team members also addressed the press. The coalition consists of the following groups-Affirmation: United Methodists for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns, Methodist Federation for Social Action, The Reconciling Congregation Program and United Methodists of Color for a Fully Inclusive Church. The statement released by the United Methodists of Color group is available for signing by clergy and laity of color in the Dorothy Fuldheim Room at the Sheraton Hotel.
Yesterday's Bishop Arthur Kulah statement that the global church does not accept homosexuality - that it's a United States issue - brought many responses at the AMAR press conference on Wednesday.
Truly we know this is our church and there are Bishops who weep at the pain that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered (LGBT) people, and their families and friends feel from the Church. "One white person does not speak for all the white race," said Jeanne Knepper, Co-spokesperson for Affirmation at an AMAR press conference, "as one black person or bishop does not speak for all the black race."
At the same press event, Marilyn Alexander of Reconciling Congregation Program said there are "LGBT people in [other] countries and we're concerned for these people. Sometime they face death just for who they are. The global church must realize it is a life and death issue, not just a theological issue."
AMAR is serious about remaining in connection according to Rev. Greg Dell. The division of the United Methodist Church by nations or as a domination is much like a family that fights but stays together. Many people of color, whites, gay and straight are already disappearing from the church. "We have lost folks. We hurt them. We push them out," said Dell.
Dan Vera and Rev. Gil Caldwell of the United Methodists of Color for a Fully Inclusive Church refer to their statement as a living document. People who sign their names to it are invited to define themselves. The statement is in the spirit of inclusiveness. "It gives voice to where silence has been," said Vera.
Rev. Caldwell spoke of black Bishop Tutu seeing the global church in a different way from Bishop Kulah. "Bishop Tutu sees a connection to homosexuality and the struggle of South Africa," viewed Caldwell. Rev. Caldwell's example was based on the response of his own community within the civil rights of the 60's. "Back on April 4, 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke out against the Viet Nam War," continued Caldwell, "Black civil right leaders asked King why we were dealing with this issue? Because there is a connection." Dan Vera added, "There are common stories, common singing, common scenes in what to do in the work in the church."
Nestor Gerente, a Filipino signer of the document, said that outside the U.S. the homosexual issue is not a priority over other items. "[There's a perception that] allowing civil same-gender marriage threatens heterosexual relationships. That somehow if this is allowed that people may choose homosexuality. But it's not a choice."
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