A friend recently said, "Ten pastors will have to be defrocked before the UMC changes its stance toward gays."
Two years ago Frank Schaefer became our first martyr in most recent UMC history. His ministerial credentials were removed following a church trial. (They were later reinstated.) Frank’s story and martyrdom brought light to the harm done to the LGBTQ community by the UMC. It also created tension and pain for our denomination. This brought us closer to making the change to full inclusion.
I had the opportunity to officiate at my daughter’s same gender wedding last August. A complaint and just resolution followed. Last month I had the privilege of officiating at Rev. Hutchison’s same gender wedding following his forced resignation from the Cassopolis, Michigan UMC. A complaint was filed against me. I’m willing to go to trial and lose my credentials.
God is looking for 8 more martyrs.
How can you be a martyr for God’s kingdom of justice and inclusion for all people?
1. Officiate at a same gender wedding.
2. Have someone file a complaint. This can refer to any same gender wedding you’ve officiated in the past six years. Some suggestions for people to file the complaint: Your District Superintendent, a Good News evangelical, or even an ally.
3. Don’t settle for a just resolution when you meet with the Bishop.
4. Let your case go to trial.
5. Encourage media (social and traditional and denominational) coverage of every step of your process.
The goal of this martyrdom is to bring light to the harm done to the LGBTQ community by the United Methodist Church. It is also to bring tension and pain to our denomination which is at a tipping point. Hopefully, we will have 8 more martyrs by the 2016 General Conference so that God’s desired changes are voted up.
Martin Luther King Junior said from the Birmingham jail: “Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and establish such creative tension that a community that has consistently refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue.”
He also said, “I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.”
God is looking for 8 more martyrs. Will you be one of them?
Mike Tupper, pastor of Parchment, MI UMC, firstname.lastname@example.org