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Oklahoma UM Congregation Declares UMC "Morally Reprehensible" For Defending Moral Standard


From: "U.M. Cornet" umcornet@hotmail.com

CALLED OUT INFORMATION SERVICE

NEWS FROM
EPWORTH UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
1901 North Douglas Street
Oklahoma City, OK 73106

For more information, contact: Tom Eleazer - 405/842-8662

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK--The Charge Conference of Epworth United Methodist Church (UMC), Oklahoma City, OK, has passed a resolution, which expresses opposition to the United Methodist Church for its current policies of exclusion regarding homosexual Christians. The resolution was passed as a result of several recent actions by the United Methodist Church, including: a) the conviction and defrocking of Nebraska minister Jimmy Creech for performing a Holy Union for a same-sex couple; b)refusal of ordination to openly homosexual ministers; and c)prohibition of the label “Reconciling Congregation” to identify UMC churches which are welcoming and affirming of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered people.

The resolution states that “the ‘come here/go away’ message of the denomination inflicts confusion in our Christian community and stands as an impediment to our efforts to bring Jesus' transforming and reconciling message of love to all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, race, age or other natural and God-given human characteristics.” The resolution further states, “We state clearly and unequivocally our opposition to the United Methodist Church's official position as reflected in the above events. We, the people of Epworth United Methodist Church, find these decisions to be morally reprehensible.”

The resolution was passed without opposition at Epworth’s annual Charge Conference held last Sunday (November 21, 1999). It was presented to UMC District Superintendent Douglas McPherson, who was asked by the congregation to convey its message to Bishop Bruce Blake of the Oklahoma Conference and to other appropriate representatives of the church hierarchy.

According to Epworth Pastor Reverend Charla Gwartney, the resolution was conceived by members of the congregation as a response to recent events within the United Methodist Church, which many feel are in direct conflict with Christian principles. “Many members of our congregation feel deeply that the United Methodist Church’s position in these matters is wrong and counter to the true teachings of Jesus Christ,” Rev. Gwartney said. “The resolution was a way of expressing the pain which our membership feels over the United Methodist Church’s official position, and to make sure that the church was on record with an official stance in opposition to these policies.”

Gwartney said further that despite the Church’s recent decisions, Epworth intended to remain faithful to its mission, which is “to follow in the reconciling ministry of Jesus as an inclusive, justice-seeking community.” She added, “We gladly welcome all people regardless of color, ancestry, age, gender, disability, family status, or sexual or affectional orientation. We celebrate diversity. In our hearts, that’s what being a church is all about.”

TEXT OF THE RESOLUTION PASSED BY
THE 1999 CHARGE CONFERENCE OF
EPWORTH UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
November 19, 1999

We, the people of Epworth United Methodist Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in light of: (a) the recent denominational decisions of the Judicial Council regarding holy unions and use of the name "Reconciling Congregation"; (b) the trials of Pastors Jimmy Creech and Gregory Dell; and (c) the denomination's decision to disregard God's call to gay or lesbian United Methodists to become ministers of the church, wish to communicate to the Bishop, the District Superintendent, the governing bodies, and the entire membership of the United Methodist Church our feelings of deep pain and agony as the result of these actions. The "come here/go away" message of the denomination inflicts confusion in our Christian community and stands as an impediment to our efforts to bring Jesus's transforming and reconciling message of love to all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, race, age or other natural and God-given human characteristics.

We state clearly and unequivocally our opposition to the United Methodist Church's official position as reflected in the above events. We, the people of Epworth United Methodist Church, find these decisions to be morally reprehensible. We believe that God speaks to each of us as children of God and loves us equally and unconditionally. We believe that Jesus' message calls us to a table big enough for all people, regardless of their God-given sexual orientation. Push as they might, the United Methodist Church will not and cannot drive us away. God calls us, and we will fight this hypocrisy and wrongfulness today and always.

We communicate these feelings in Christian love.

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