The sign said: Silence equals Death. It was from thirty years ago when our nation’s leaders didn’t want to get involved in addressing the challenges of AIDS. Their silence led to lack of information and funding, which resulted in death to many.
Today in our denomination, silence equals discrimination. Most of our Bishops and church leaders are silent in responding to our church’s position on homosexuality and the LGBTQ community. I believe their silence will result in continued discriminatory policies in our Book of Discipline. Their absence of leadership around these critical issues will lead to 2016 General Conference decisions that will continue to harm LGBTQ persons.
I had the privilege of talking about this with Bishop Jung a week ago. He and his wife were so gracious to invite me out for dinner. I was staying that night in front of the Wisconsin Conference Office on the sixtieth day of my Tent Witness. He shared me with the challenge of holding in tension the covenant he has with the other Bishops in upholding the Book of Discipline and God’s covenant with him. Bishop Jung helped me see the dilemma that Bishops and church leaders face these days.
Jesus faced a similar dilemma with the religious leaders of his day. They wanted him to be silent in the face of the discrimination and oppression of outsiders like Samaritans, lepers, tax collectors, and other outcasts. Jesus indicated his covenant with God had priority over whatever covenant he might have with the Jewish leaders. Jesus was not silent in his promotion of justice for the outsider.
A few weeks ago at a RMN event in Illinois, Bishop Carcano told the story about the 15 bishops who boldly took a stand at the 2000 General Conference for LGBTQ persons. She told about the consequences she personally experienced for supporting those Bishops.
It’s time for another bold stand by our Bishops and church leaders. It’s time to end the silence. It’s time to speak out for an end to the discrimination.
My daughter is lying by the side of the road. Sarah has been beaten up by a church that won’t bless her marriage and won’t let her serve in ministry. It’s time for Bishops and church leaders to go to her side, instead of walking by on the other side.
It’s time for those of us in the pews and pulpits to tell our leaders: silence equals discrimination. They will listen when we send our e-mails and Facebook messages and letters to their offices. They will listen when we tell them: It’s time to speak up. Our church and General Conference will listen when we unite together and say out loud: No more discrimination.