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.”

1 comment:

  1. Rev. Tupper, I just want to say thank you so much for sticking with your tent and sticking by us. I'm a queer college student. I grew up in an incredible United Methodist Church, and I've struggled with my scripture and with my incredible pastor - who reminds me a lot of you - and I'm tired of waiting for an end to this gap between the love we preach and the love we live. I want to see a future for myself where I can get married in the sanctuary where I grew up, in a ceremony officiated by my pastor. I want to be able to give birth to or adopt children and raise them in this church. But probably most of all, I want my church to stop legitimizing by inaction all those people who hate me in the name of my own God. I want to not feel guilty on Sunday morning when I walk into a place of worship that I know isn't living up to our God-given potential of open arms, justice, and human rights. Equality is so intrinsic in our salvation message - this life isn't all it's about. Our skin color, gender, socioeconomic circumstance or sexual orientation... they are all just secondary identifiers. Our primary identifier is that we are all sinners in desperate need of God's grace. Our primary identifier is saved. Saved by unbelievable sacrifice and unending mercy of Jesus Christ. To profess one group of people better than the other because of who they love misses the point. And I know we are better than that. Our church is better than that. I pray every day that more and more within our church are reminded of the point, and that one day I can imagine a different kind of future in my church.