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Mississippi United Methodist Advocate Editor Laments Support For Faithful Pastor

From: cmdiscuss@yahoogroups.com [mailto:cmdiscuss@yahoogroups.com]
On Behalf Of Dwain Whitehurst
Sent: Wednesday, August 24, 2005 9:37 PM
To: cmdiscuss
Subject: [cmdiscuss] This is article appeard in the Mississippi Advocate, What do you think???

Mississippi United Methodist Advocate/Aug. 17, 2005
COMMENTARY Woody Woodrick Advocate Editor

Rejecting sinners just wrong.

Oh, how my heart hurts. One of my fears for The United Methodist Church appears to have come true. A pastor in the Virginia Conference has been suspended from his pastoral appointment because he would not accept into the membership of his church a man living in a homosexual relationship. Much to my dismay, conservative groups within the denomination have criticized Bishop Charlene Kammerer for her decision to suspend the pastor. Members of the church quoted in news stories have supported the pastor. The defense for not accepting the man seems to center around his refusal to renounce his sexual orientation. So a group of Christians has turned him away. From the church! [unreadable sentences omitted]

Oh, how my heart aches.

I am bewildered. How can a church that professes to love God and its neighbors reject anybody? Best as I can determine, no new member is required to state a sexual preference to join a United Methodist church, just profess that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior. Last time I looked, lots of folks who believe that with all their hearts were committing sin and not repentant. Over the past several years, homosexuality has become the unpardonable sin. Our churches are full of adulterers, cheats, liars, blasphemers, idolaters, thieves, violators of the Sabbath and coveters. But, by gosh, we're going to keep out the gays. How can a church minister to alcoholics, drug addicts or the imprisoned but reject homosexuals? How can a church justify accepting one group of sins as acceptable, or at least redeemable, but not another? How can we turn our backs on someone who seeks fellowship with other Christians? I was taught that the church is the exact place where sinners should be; the church was the one place where we are accepted. When the church turns away sinners, they find solace where ever they can. Where does that leave them? Where does that leave us? Newscope recently reported that membership in The United Methodist Church fell by 80,000 people in 2004.

Folks, if we start refusing church membership to unrepentant sinners, we will soon consider a loss of only 80,000 members cause for celebration. Understand, I'm not condoning this man's lifestyle. However, I know I'm not worthy of Christ's saving grace.

I've seen the evil in my soul. I wrestle with it every, single day. I rationalize my behavior every, single day. I'm sure there are things in my life I don't consider sin, but God does. I dread the day when the section in the Book of Life devoted to me stands open. I am dropping my rock and silently slipping away. Yet, despite how sorry I am, Christ accepts me. He longs for me, and He never rejects me. If Christ accepts my sorry soul, how can He not accept this man in Virginia? How can I not accept him?

If God can accept this man as he is, with all his imperfections and shortcomings, how can we not accept him? He's good enough for God, but not good enough for us?

Not long ago, our Sunday school class discussed the "worst" sin. Have we just committed it?



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