Thursday, April 28, 2016

Apology from Mike Tupper

 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.”        

Thursday, April 21, 2016

National Tent Night


     Rev. Frank Schaefer and Rev. Mike Tupper invite everyone to the National Tent Night on Friday, May 13th. Gather your friends and family. Put up a tent in front of your house, your church, your Wesley Foundation or join us at the United Methodist General Conference in Portland.
Sleep outside on May 13 to symbolize how the present policies of the United Methodist Church are pushing LGBTQ people outside. Together we can send a message to the delegates at General Conference that we want the doors of our church open to all, including the LGBTQ community. It’s time to stop the discrimination. It’s time to stop the harm.
Pray on May 13 for our General Conference delegates who are meeting over the next week. Pray for the Spirit of God to give them discernment in how to bring God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Pray they will end the war in our denomination against the LGBTQ community and bring peace with justice.
One of the Old Testament holiday feasts that is still celebrated by Jews is Sukkot. It’s also called the Feast of Booths or Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23 34-44). Sukkot is the plural of sukkah, which is a temporary dwelling. It’s to represent the fragile shelters used by the Israelites during their 40 years of wandering in the desert wilderness. Jews today create these structures during the Sukkot holiday and spend time in them, even sleeping overnight in them. They are like modern day tents.
The LGBTQ community has been wandering for the past 44 years in the desert-wilderness of the United Methodist Church. We symbolize that by sleeping overnight in a tent on May 13th. We do this while praying that the General Conference delegates lead us into the Promised Land where the doors of our church are open to all people.
Join us at #NationalTentNight and Facebook event: National Tent Night.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Don't Escalate the War

            The Covenantal Unity Plan (CUP) proposed by Dr. Bill Arnold is more likely to escalate the 44 year civil war in the United Methodist Church over LGBTQ inclusion than to lessen it. This General Conference legislation would enact severe mandatory sentences for pastors who officiate at same gender weddings. Many clergy would face immediate dismissal and loss of their credentials. This would only lead to greater conflict in our denomination.
            Dr. Arnold is a professor at multi-denominational Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. I’ll be bringing my Tent Witness to the Asbury campus on Friday, April 15 to protest discrimination in our church and Dr. Arnold’s CUP proposal. I’ve been sleeping outside in a tent for the past 140 nights to symbolize how our church is pushing LGBTQ persons outside into the cold.  
 I will be directly affected if the CUP legislation is approved. I officiated at the same gender wedding for my daughter Sarah and Ali (pictured) in 2014. Last summer I officiated at the wedding of Rev. Hutchison, a gay pastor forced to resign from serving his United Methodist church. Because I officiated at two same gender weddings, I would lose my ministerial credentials and never be able to pastor in the United Methodist Church.
I love the United Methodist Church and have been faithfully serving the church as a pastor for 35 years. I’ve appreciated the theological diversity in our “Big Tent”. Unfortunately, the CUP legislation authored by Dr. Arnold’s would lead our church away from this. Instead, it would lead to four more years of a more intensified civil war. As I often say, “Lord, help us.”