I apologize to my daughter and her wife
Sarah and Ali, I’m sorry for my thirty – three years of silence. I’ve been in ministry for 35 years now. I’ve been silent for all but the last two years. I did not speak up on behalf of LGBTQ persons. I did not publicly challenge the discrimination of our church. I acknowledge my sins of omission.
My eyes have been opened in the past two years as I’ve heard story after story of people who have been hurt by the discriminatory policies of the United Methodist Church. I’m ashamed that I “crossed by on the other side of the road” for 33 years. I chose not to get involved. I ask for your forgiveness.
These past few months I’ve met people directly affected by the discrimination. I met Jimmy Creech, whose ministerial credentials were permanently removed in 1999 because he officiated at a service for a gay couple. I met Rev. Cynthia Meyer who is facing a church trial and her removal as a United Methodist pastor because she acknowledged she is gay. I’ve met pastors who are still in the closet in fear of what would happen if they came out. I’ve met LGBTQ folk who are responding to God’s call to ordained ministry in the United Methodist Church, but unsure of their future.
Sarah and Ali, I’ve heard you talk about your struggle to find a church home because of the church’s discrimination. You’ve told me about the struggles you’ve personally faced by churches and Christians. I’ve heard your stories of people who have felt compelled to take their own lives because of the shame brought to them by the church for being LGBTQ. Lord, help us…
I’m thankful for courageous spokespersons in our denomination who have not been silent. I’m thankful for Dorothee Benz and MIND. I’m thankful for Amy DeLong and Love Prevails. I’m thankful for Matt Berryman and RMN. I’m thankful for Chett Pritchett and MFSA. I’m thankful for Adam Hamilton and Steve Harper and so many more.
To all LGBTQ persons: I apologize and repent for my silence and my sins of omission. One small way I have been expressing my turning to a new life (repentance) is the Tent Witness symbolizing how our church’s policy pushes LGBTQ persons outside its doors. I’ve been sleeping in the tent for over 150 nights and will continue to do so through General Conference. I invite others to join Rev. Frank Schaefer and myself in sleeping outside on National Tent Night on Friday, May 13th. (Others can sleep outside their house or church) Together we can say to General Conference delegates, “It’s time to end the silence, end the war and end the discrimination in the United Methodist Church.”