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Homosexual's Parents And UM's Of Color Exploit 9/11 Tragedy To Influence UM High Court Rulings


A press release from the Reconciling Ministries Network followed by two statements, one by the Parents Reconciling Network (PRN) and the other a statement in solidarity by the Rev. Gilbert Caldwell, an advisory board member to United Methodists of Color for a Fully Inclusive Church and co-founder of Black Methodists for Church Renewal.

The press release refers to a docket item of the Judicial Council -- a request from the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference for a declaratory decision on the perceived conflict between the last sentence of 325.1 and 304.3 of the 2000 Discipline (http://www.umc.org/churchlibrary/judicial/fall01_docket.htm).


October 23, 2001 For Immediate Release

Parents Urge United Methodist Judicial Council to Rule in Favor of Appointment Their Children; United Methodists of Color Stand in Solidarity

CHICAGO—The United Methodist Church’s Judicial Council convenes this week Oct 24-27 in Nashville. At the top of the agenda: whether ordained Elders in good standing should be appointed to churches as promised by UM Book of Discipline even if they are self-avowed practicing homosexuals. The Parents Reconciling Network (PRN), a national organization of United Methodist parents of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender children, is paying close attention to the actions of the denomination’s "Supreme Court" regarding the appointment of Gay and Lesbian United Methodist pastors. The issue resurfaced this summer in the Pacific Northwest Conference when Elders Mark Williams and Karen Damman declared their homosexuality to the Bishop and attending delegates.

"We feel the pain and hurt of Karen Damman and Mark Williams along with the pain of our own children, and call to attention that there is conflict in the [UMC] Discipline on many issues, including ordination and guaranteed appointments to churches for all ordained United Methodist pastors," says Jamie Stroud, national coordinator of the PRN. The PRN is joined in solidarity by Rev. Gil Caldwell, advisory board member to United Methodists of Color for a Fully Inclusive Church and co-founder of Black Methodists for Church Renewal. (See statements below)

Formally organized in response to the UMC’s General Conference 2000 perpetuation of anti-gay policies, it is a national network of United Methodist parents advocating for the full inclusion of their LGBT children into the full life of the Church. It, along with UMOC, is part of the broader Reconciling Ministries Network coalition.


PRN Statement

PRN is deeply concerned about the controversy that has arisen over appointment of gay and lesbian United Methodist pastors to churches. The two pastors at the center of this issue, Karen Damman and Mark Williams, are both ordained elders in the United Methodist Church who have been denied appointments to their churches in the Pacific Northwest. Mark and Karen represent our children, many of whom are (or have been) United Methodist pastors.

In some areas of the country, our gay and lesbian clergy children may openly serve United Methodist churches. In other areas, they must remain closeted, thus compromising their integrity and honesty in order to keep their appointments. Many of our children have been denied ordination or stripped of their credentials once their sexual orientation became known. Others have left the denomination to serve churches accepting of their gifts. This is a disgrace.

Our children were baptized as infants and young children in the United Methodist church. They grew up in the United Methodist Church. They participated in United Methodist Youth Fellowship. They helped lead worship services and taught Sunday School. They sang in the choir. They were confirmed as full members of the United Methodist church as teenagers and young adults.

We, their parents, feel hurt and unwelcome in our own churches when our children learn that their baptism into the United Methodist Church does not really mean they can participate in the full life of the denomination. We cry with them when the churches in which they grew up imply that they are not worthy to serve United Methodist churches. We are angered at the injustice of excluding our children who bring their gifts pastors and preachers.


Statement by the Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell


Some have said that because of the events of September 11, 2001, we in the USA have been changed forever. This is true for those of us who are proud to be Americans, and this is true of us as individuals who are now more personally reflective than we have ever been. Some one of the hundreds of voices I have heard since that awful second Tuesday in September, spoke words that have embedded themselves within my spirit. The shock, anger, tears, fear and vulnerability that most of us feel, provides us with the "...opportunity to correct the deficits in our lives..."

One of my/our "deficits" is to focus on the less-than-important, and be less than vigilant about the life and death issues facing us as members of the global village. My church denomination, the United Methodist Church, has spent so much of its legislative and legal resources and time in recent years declaring and enforcing the idea that homosexuality is "incompatible" with the Christian faith. September 11th makes me wonder, what if the considerable energies and resources of my nearly 9 million denomination had been utilized a bit more to encourage/enable, our nation to work for international justice and peace?

The marvelous statement of The Parents Reconciling Network for United Methodists, urging our denominational "Supreme Court", the Judicial Council, to "...allow Lesbian and Gay pastors to be appointed to the churches to which they are entitled," rather than be rejected because they are open and honest about their sexual orientation and activity. How tragic it is that parents of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered children within the church must, in these awesome national/international moments, have to petition the church to authentically accept their children.

I, with all of us, wept as I watched the human tragedy of 9/11. We could not help but notice that those whom we saw were of a diversity of racial/ethnic colors. They represented in their persons, the human diversity that is the genius of this land. As I watched, I wondered, how many of those victims and those who sought to rescue them were Lesbian, or Gay, or Bisexual or Transgender? Then, I realized, how foolish to think about that in the presence of so much death and pain and heroism.

The Parents Reconciling Network is saying to the United Methodist Church, how foolish of the church to hurt their homosexual children, and their parents, through rejection, when there is so much anger, pain and misunderstanding in the world.

The tragedy of September 11th offers The United Methodist Church the "...opportunity to correct the deficits in (its life)." I believe that it will!

Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell United Methodists of Color for a fully Inclusive Church

Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell – Chair, UMOC Advisory Committee Gilbert Caldwell is a United Methodist minister with over forty years experience in organizing for social justice in and out of the United Methodist Church. A colleague of Martin Luther King, Jr., Caldwell was a founder of Black Methodists for Church Renewal, a pioneering organization which lead the fight for the full inclusion of African Americans in the life of the church. He has also ministered to churches in the Boston, Harlem, and Denver communities. Caldwell has served on the national staff of the General Commission of Religion and Race of the United Methodist Church. As a Heterosexual ally, Caldwell has been an outspoken and prolific writer on issues of anti-racism, LGBT inclusion, disability rights and social justice. Caldwell has given leadership to LGBT advocacy in the church since 1979, when the denominational publishing house commissioned him to write a study guide on religion and homosexuality. This landmark publication exists as one of the first church-sponsored publications advocating for the inclusion of sexual minorities into the church. In 2000 he helped to bring together a roundtable of United Methodists of Color to be in conversation about diversity and heterosexism in the United Methodist Church. The gathering culminated in United Methodists of Color For A Fully Inclusive Church. He recently retired as senior minister at Park Hill UMC in Denver, Colorado.

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