September 28, 2015
Thanks for the frank discussions we’ve had during the Supervisory Response process following the complaint filed on July 17th. I regret to inform you that we will not be able to agree on a just resolution this time.
I’ve struggled over the word “just” in just resolution. I don’t believe God wants me to get “off the hook” again so easily with a just resolution, knowing that justice in our church is not yet available for my gay daughter Sarah and my friends Rev. Hutchison and Ginny Mikita. I know others find the just resolution to be a helpful step forward. Last year, I signed a just resolution following Sarah and Ali’s wedding. But this time, God is leading me differently.
The Lord has led me to this decision because He’s called me to shine a light on the harm done by our church to LGBTQ people like my daughter. God’s called me to highlight the need for a change in our Discipline at General Conference. But God has also made it clear to me that I should be willing to pay the price for my disobedience to the present Book of Discipline. I’m reminded of this in paragraph 164 F in the Discipline.
I acknowledge publicly that I am guilty of violating one of the chargeable offenses in paragraph 2702.1b. (“performing same sex wedding ceremonies”) Consequently, you will probably be referring this complaint on to Counsel for the Church. Eventually, this might lead to a church trial.
I lament the costs involved in a church trial. Therefore I invite Church Counsel and yourself to consider the following proposal to minimize the financial costs of a church trial: Do the investigation and trial with minimal costs and no lawyers. There is nothing in the Discipline which requires the participation of lawyers. There is nothing in the Discipline which requires exorbitant expenses for an investigation or trial. This makes sense because I’m pleading “guilty” to the offense. I will not contest the guilty verdict or the penalty decided on by a jury of my peers.
I am thankful that I’m not alone in what I’ve had the privilege to do on two occasions. I’m a part of growing movement of United Methodist pastors who are being biblically obedient by performing weddings for all people. I love the United Methodist Church and am committed to fulfilling my responsibility as a pastor to be in ministry with all people.
May God help us all do our part to welcome in His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
In Christ’s ministry of love and justice for all,
P.S. I will be sending a signed, notarized letter in the mail today related to this matter.