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Pacific Northwest UM's To Lead The "Gay Way" For Denomination

From: umcornet [mailto:umcornet@yahoo.com]
Sent: Saturday, June 21, 2003 5:27 PM
To: UMCalledOut@yahoogroups.com
Subject: [CALLED OUT] Entitlement, Not Patience, Is Key to Gays' Place in United Methodism

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From RMN, Pacific Northwest Annual Conference

Entitlement, Not Patience, Is Key to Place of Gays in United Methodism
NEWS BY Paul Beeman

TACOMA, June 20, 2003: "The Pacific Northwest Annual Conference is leading the way for the entire United Methodist Church," the Rev. John S. Lewis, of Great Falls, MT., told 150 cheering United Methodists here tonight.

The annual dinner of the Reconciling Ministries Network brought together supporters of full rights for lesbian and gay church members midway through the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference, meeting this week on the campus of UM-related University of Puget Sound.

Lewis, a United Methodist minister and former district superintendent in the Yellowstone Annual Conference, said that since he retired and since his son came out as a gay man, he has become an advocate and organizer for full rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender United Methodists throughout his denomination.

Quoting Midge Dexter of the Heritage Foundation, he noted that while pastors love to preach about the virtues of gratitude and patience, these are the words of conservatives; "worse, they are words of servitude. As with our Afro-American sisters and brothers of past generations, our gay children and friends are being told, "'Just be grateful for the gains you have been allowed, and be patient.'"

"Enough of gratitude and patience," Lewis declared. "At the 2000 General Conference, the conservative caucus spurned us as if we didn't exist. I am through being thankful for having my son treated as less than whole. I am out of patience with the radical right agenda of the Institute for Religion and Democracy, the so- called "Good News" and the Confessing Movement. I claim this church is rightfully mine as a child of God and a United Methodist."

Lewis continued, "The word for us, for our lesbian and gay children, and pastors, and church members, and for all liberal Christians today, is 'entitlement.'" He said, "We as reconciling people have to claim our rights in the United Methodist Church." We and our L/G/B/T children and friends are entitled to our place in the church--a place of full acceptance. The United Methodist Church belongs to us all. It is our church. All are entitled to full rights of ministry and membership," he declared with deep emotion.

Lewis praised the courage of two Washington State pastors--the Rev. Mark E. Williams, and the Rev. Karen T. Dammann. Each of the two pastors has dared to admit to a homosexual orientation. But after examination by the PNW Conference Committee on Investigation, the committee found insufficient evidence to bring either to a church trial.

"Our great Church will begin to change when other pastors dare to follow their lead," Lewis said.

"We must all make our witness far more publicly," he affirmed. Referring to the General Conference session which met in Cleveland in 2000, Lewis cautioned, "Instead of 30 people walking on the conference floor three years ago, we need 300 to walk on the conference floor in Pittsburgh in 2004, if need be to do it as ecclesiastical disobedience, and get arrested. " And, he said, "we need 3000 people at home contributing $100 apiece to cover their fines and court costs."

Lewis concluded, "Back in the Kansas of my childhood, Catholic and Lutheran churches had crosses on their steeples, but most Methodist churches had weathervanes. Today the conservative movement wants us to remain weathervanes, responding to their interpretation of current anti-gay church opinion. Reconciling people have to take up the cross and point the way of Jesus, who accepted the most diverse persons as part of his new kingdom."

Reconciling Ministries Network in The Pacific Northwest Annual Conference, The United Methodist Church 5701 MacArthur Blvd., Vancouver, WA 98661 Phone(360) 693-4761


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