To our oldest son Dale, and his daughter, active members of the UMC of New Brunswick, NJ:I have just read Heather Hahn's UMNS January 19th article on The Commission on the Way Forward and these words about its mission; "The Commission on a Way Forward has the daunting task to bridge the denomination's deep divisions on homosexuality and foster Church unity."
The day after the USA presidential inauguration, world wide Women's March events prompt this sharing. Although the USA elected a President on November 8th (Not with the most votes), millions of women and men throughout the world, expressed their concern and dissent with the results of the election. Voters are not known to foster justice for those who are the victims of discrimination!
United Methodists ought be particularly reflective about the election results because Hillary Clinton a long-term United Methodist, was defeated by a candidate who in so many ways in word and deed is at variance with United Methodist, "Christian Teaching".
Some thoughts:1. Once Methodists debated the "place" of women and blacks in the denomination in response to faulty and bigoted biblical interpretation. We seem to be reluctant to say that we were wrong.
But we now know with certainty, those who justified discrimination against women and blacks were wrong, despite their Scripture and Wesleyan claims.
2. "Imagine" (the John Lennon song) if those of us who were among the millions of persons who participated in Women's March, were "flies on the wall" in the place where the Commission meets? We would be amazed, startled, and saddened by their discussion. How, in the 21st century could those who claim to be led by and follow an inclusive JESUS debate whether somepersons because of how they express their sexual orientation are worthy of being full participants in the life of the United Methodist Church? Historians of the future will explore why and how a denomination that had resolved debates about blacks and women and their place in the denomination, would in the 21st century engage in our current debate about homosexuality?3. I have said and written over and over again that my life and ministry has been enriched by Methodist/United Methodist Bishops, clergy, and Lay people who are same gender loving.Those who are now deceased, must agonize in eternity over the Church they loved and served so well. And, will the Commission prayerfully reflect on the impact their discussions will have on the same gender loving persons still alive at every level of the denomination?
The late Bishop Leontine Kelly in response to a man who said to her, "The apostle Paul said she had no right as a woman to be a preacher" responded in words that I deliberately capitalize:"PAUL DID NOT CALL ME TO PREACH, JESUS DID!"
The Commission will determine whether we as United Methodists will follow JESUS or Paul!
Gil CaldwellA retired member of the Rocky Mountain Conference