Jul 202015
 
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This entry is part 16 of 30 in the series Daily Douche-Bag
Bishop Kiesey preaches at United Methodist General Conference Bishop Deborah Lieder Kiesey preaches on May 3 at the 2012 United Methodist General Conference in Tampa, Florida. A UMNS photo by Paul Jeffrey.

Bishop Deborah Lieder Kiesey preaches on May 3 at the 2012 United Methodist General Conference in Tampa, Florida. A UMNS photo by Paul Jeffrey.

Recently, a small church in Michigan, Cassopolis United Methodist, had their church Pastor, Rev. Benjamin Hutchison, taken away from them. Was it because of poor attendance, hardly, he had quadrupled the membership since being appointed. He saved the church from dying according to many members. His crime, he was in a long-term committed relationship with another man. Just after that, nearly 30 United Methodist pastors joined in a celebrating a wedding ceremony for Rev. Hutchison and his husband, and now, to further hammer home her distaste for love, Bishop Deborah Lieder Kiesey has picked out nine of them for prosecution under church law. Here’s my letter to Bishop Kiesey:

Dear Bishop Kiesey: Continue reading »

Response to Bishop Carter’s Ruling

 Featured, Gay Issues, Methodism, Religion, Society  Comments Off on Response to Bishop Carter’s Ruling
Feb 052014
 

Last year, I was forced to file a complaint with the Bishop [Masters v Toms-Complaint to Bishop (redacted)] about hateful and dishonest actions by Bruce Toms, the newly appointed Pastor at Palma Ceia United Methodist Church. At the time, I was told by several Methodist Ministers to not have high expectations; that the Bishop’s first reaction would be to protect the institution; and his second would be to protect the elder. That came true, with a letter from the Bishop making some intellectual contortions that defy belief.

In the end, the Bishop concedes the statement of welcome adopted by the Church in 2011 was not a violation of the Discipline; that a Pastor cannot unilaterally undo the “legal” actions of a Church Council; but still, somehow, managed to find an excuse to side with Toms. Below, is my response to the intellectual gymnastics.

Bishop-Ken-Carter-2-300x202

Bishop Kenneth H. Carter, Florida Episcopal Area, United Methodist Church

Dear Bishop Carter:

I know you are aware that I am not at all satisfied with the response you have provided. It’s less about your findings, and more about the logic on which you seem to have based the determination. Much of the reasoning stated in your letter would call into question the integrity of the recollections of me and the other lay members involved in the 2011 process, and that’s just not acceptable to me. I know these people to be of the highest moral character, and I know Bill Josey’s recollection of many events to be substantially different than that of everyone else involved. So that’s just not going to go unanswered.

Therefore, I intend to respond to your letter of findings in some detail. You can disregard it if you wish, obviously, but it is important to me and the others involved to respond.

“The question of justice and grace in relation to gay and lesbian Christians is a matter of great importance. It can be approached missionally, pastorally, judicially and legally. Our Book of Discipline affirms the sacred worth of every person (161f) and our commitment to be in ministry “for and with all persons (161f). These affirmations are placed in the context of the Social Principles, which, “while not to be considered church law”, are nevertheless “a call to faithfulness and are intended to be instructive and persuasive in the best of the prophetic spirit” (Preface).”

We all know that 161f is part of the Social Principles and therefore not church law. However, Bruce Toms used it in his now “classified” and secret PowerPoint presentation to make his point that the former (as you call it) statement was in violation of the Discipline. So, since he did nothing wrong, the other sections of 161f would carry the same weight he seemed to give, would they not? In other words, use of the Social Principles was a door opened, not by me, but by Toms. Continue reading »

Admin Council Member Says Stating We Treat Everyone Equally Might Be Divisive

 Gay Issues, Legislature, Methodism, Religion, Right Wingnuts, Society  Comments Off on Admin Council Member Says Stating We Treat Everyone Equally Might Be Divisive
Feb 182011
 

I returned once again to the Administrative Council at my church to ask them to pass a resolution adopting a non-discrimination statement. The last time I went in 2008, one of the members, Bill Josey, an attorney, objected because I had included a statement that we would, when reasonable, try to do business only with other organizations that had a similar statement. That was his only objection. I took it out, completely, but guess what, at January’s meeting he had a different objection.

This time he decided we shouldn’t do it because it might be divisive. You know, stating to the broader community that everyone is welcome at our church isn’t something we should take lightly, even though all the classes in my statement are also in the Methodist Discipline. Naturally, that meant someone had to say, “Well, if it’s in the Discipline, why do we need to say it again?” I asked the group how many (noting they are Church Leaders) had ever read the Discipline. Only two raised their hands. I pointed out if they weren’t interested, how could we expect someone just looking for a church home be expected to read a couple hundred pages?

This time however, I had some reinforcements. A group of long-standing members of the church were more than willing to go along and speak in favor of the statement, and two members of the Council stood and spoke in favor of the resolution. I think Bill and Preacher saw the ground shift under their feet a little, so we moved things forward some, and will be going back again with a revised statement.

Here’s the resolution Bill considers to be so divisive:

TITLE: A Statement of Commitment to Justice for All People and a Call to Action for Palma Ceia United Methodist Church

SUBJECT:
Equal Opportunity for all persons

SUMITTED BY: B. John Masters, Jr., et. al.

REFERENCES:
United Methodist Church Book of Discipline ¶161 and ¶162

DATE: January 31, 2011

FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS: There are no direct financial implications arising to Palma Ceia United Methodist Church associated with this resolution.

Inasmuch as Palma Ceia United Methodist Church has always been a church providing open hearts, open minds and open doors, it is appropriate that Palma Ceia United Methodist Church adopt a public statement of that commitment consistent with Biblical teaching and the Discipline of the United Methodist Church.  Especially as Methodists, “We believe we have a responsibility to innovate, sponsor, and evaluate new forms of community that will encourage development of the fullest potential in individuals…”

Whereas, Christians have been called from the earliest days of Old Testament teaching to be Just to all, as in Micah 6:8 when the Prophet tells the people, “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?,” and;

Whereas, the Father of Methodism, John Wesley, wrote in his, “Explanatory Notes on The Bible,” for this verse, “He – God hath already told you in his word, with what you ought to come before him. To do justly – To render to every one their due, superiors, equals, inferiors, to be equal to all, and oppress none, in body, goods or name; in all your dealings with men carry a chancery in your own breasts, and do according to equity. To love mercy – To be kind, merciful and compassionate to all, not using severity towards any. Walk humbly with thy God – Keep up a constant fellowship with God, by humble, holy faith,” and;

Whereas, Equal Rights and Justice are tenants of Methodism from its earliest roots as the first item of the 1908 Social Creed of the Methodist Episcopal Church says, “For equal rights and complete justice for all men in all stations of life,” and;

Whereas, in the New Testament, Paul says, “in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave or free, male or female, God has enough love for all!,” and;

Whereas, John Wesley wrote in his comment on Acts 2:45: “It was a natural fruit of that love wherewith each member of the community loved every other as his own soul. And if the whole Christian Church had continued in this spirit, this usage must have continued through all ages,” and;

Whereas, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded us, “When evil men shout ugly words of hatred, good men must commit themselves to the glories of love. Where evil men would seek to perpetuate an unjust status quo, good men must seek to bring into being a real order of justice;” and;

Whereas, The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church ¶161 states, “The community provides the potential for nurturing human beings into the fullness of their humanity. We believe we have a responsibility to innovate, sponsor, and evaluate new forms of community that will encourage development of the fullest potential in individuals. Primary for us is the gospel understanding that all persons are important-because they are human beings created by God and loved through and by Jesus Christ and not because they have merited significance. We therefore support social climates in which human communities are maintained and strengthened for the sake of all persons and their growth. We also encourage all individuals to be sensitive to others by using appropriate language when referring to all persons. Language of a derogatory nature (with regard to race, nationality, ethnic background, gender, sexuality, and physical differences) does not reflect value for one another and contradicts the gospel of Jesus Christ;” and;

Whereas, The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church ¶162 states, “The rights and privileges a society bestows upon or withholds from those who comprise it indicate the relative esteem in which that society holds particular persons and groups of persons. We affirm all persons as equally valuable in the sight of God. We therefore work toward societies in which each person’s value is recognized, maintained, and strengthened. We support the basic rights of all persons to equal access to housing, education, communication, employment, medical care, legal redress for grievances, and physical protection. We deplore acts of hate or violence against groups or persons based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, or economic status;”

Whereas, the United Methodist Church has adopted the saying, Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors, and;
Whereas, the website of Palma Ceia United Methodist Church states, “We have Open Minds, Open Hearts, and Open Doors. I think you will find us a warm, welcoming and accepting church.,” and;

Whereas, Palma Ceia United Methodist Church and its members view our place in the Tampa Bay area and the larger world as witnessing to Jesus Christ’s message of love for and acceptance of all people, and;

Whereas, The people of Palma Ceia United Methodist Church have a history of acceptance of and outreach to all people, and a desire to encourage others to love one another in the spirit of the Gospel Message of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ;

Now therefore be it resolved: The People of Palma Ceia United Methodist Church adopt the following statement of non-discrimination:

The people of Palma Ceia United Methodist Church are called to share God’s love as we minister with and to all persons in the community where the church is located and beyond, providing worship, nurture, fellowship, and service. Our welcome knows no boundaries of age, race, ethnicity, culture, gender, sexual orientation, economic condition, physical or mental ability. We embrace and seek to preserve the beautiful, amazing diversity of God’s creation. We cooperate in ministry with other local churches and groups of God’s people as we participate in the worldwide mission of Christ.

And will publish said statement as a public statement of Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors to our community and beyond in all places and publications as appropriate, and;

The statement will be added in a reasonable time to the website on the page which includes the current statement of openness, and may be placed at other places as appropriate on all official Church printed and electronic materials where such a statement would be expected and advance the purpose of inclusion of all in the message of Jesus Christ.

Effective Date: The requirements of this resolution shall be effective immediately on passage by the Administrative Board of Palma Ceia United Methodist Church. Inclusion of the Non-Discrimination Statement in printed materials, where appropriate, is required only in new supplies of the printed materials after existing supplies are exhausted.

We’ll get there someday.

Upcoming Administrative Council Meeting at Church

 Places, Religion, Tampa  Comments Off on Upcoming Administrative Council Meeting at Church
Aug 072008
 

I have previously published a resolution I intend to introduce at the next Administrative Council meeting at my church here in Tampa (Palma Ceia United Methodist). I was going to introduce it in June, but the meeting was canceled. It’s now been rescheduled for August 18, so I should be able to attend.

One note of interest. I called the church office a week or so after the cancelled meeting to ask if it had been rescheduled. After telling me it had not yet been rescheduled, the Receptionist offered to put me on the email list for the Admin Council. I explained I didn’t need her to do that, but she said that way I’d just know when it was scheduled.

Well, lo and behold, a couple of weeks later I was on the email distribution for a message from the Chair asking about available dates. Then, I got nothing else. Suddenly I was no longer on the distribution. I haven’t taken time to stop by the church and ask about what happened, but I just might. Could be an interesting story there, as the Chairperson knows about the resolution, and has seen a draft.

UPDATE: I did finally receive an email notice of the scheduled meeting, and it was part of the general distribution.

Jun 242008
 

I have prepared a resolution on social justice to be introduced at the next meeting of the Administrative Board of Palma Ceia United Methodist Church here in Tampa. It will create an inclusive statement of non-discrimination. However, it goes a bit further. In an on-line conversation I had with a new acquaintance, he made a statement that caught my interest. He said, “People don’t have to pay a price for discrimination against gay people.” I believe this is a true statement. You can’t really change how people feel, but you can change how they behave in public through laws and through action. People who make racists statements pay a price. If they are business owner, they may be boycotted by people who don’t beleive in racism. At work, they may be ostricized, and it can affect their potential opportunities. But for the most part, people don’t pay a price for discriminating against homosexuals. My resolution requires the church to put its money where its mouth is.

I decided that a statement saying we won’t discriminate would be a nice feel good thing, but this resolution goes further and requires that we provide support of time, resources, money and facilities, only to other organizations that have a comparable statement of non-discrimination. I think this makes it a stronger resolution because it calls for a form of direct action on our part.

TITLE: A Statement of Commitment to Justice for All People and a Call to Action for Palma Ceia United Methodist Church

SUBJECT: Equal Opportunity for all persons

REFERENCES: United Methodist Church Book of Discipline ¶161 and ¶162

DATE: TBD

FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS: There are no direct financial implications arising to Palma Ceia United Methodist Church associated with this resolution.

Inasmuch as Palma Ceia United Methodist Church has always been a church providing open hearts, open minds and open doors, it is appropriate that Palma Ceia United Methodist Church adopt a public statement of that commitment consistent with Biblical teaching and the Discipline of the United Methodist Church. This includes a call to action to put into practice our belief that people are free and secure only when all of society creates a social climate which believes in equal protection of and equal opportunity for all people. Especially as Methodists, “We believe we have a responsibility to innovate, sponsor, and evaluate new forms of community that will encourage development of the fullest potential in individuals…” ((United Methodist Church Book of Discipline ¶161)) As Plato said, “Justice will only exist where those not affected by injustice are filled with the same amount of indignation as those affected.”

Whereas, Christians have been called from the earliest days of Old Testament teaching to be Just to all, as in Micah 6:8 when the Prophet tells the people, “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?,” and;

Whereas, the Father of Methodism, John Wesley, wrote in his, “Explanatory Notes on The Bible,” for this verse, “He – God hath already told you in his word, with what you ought to come before him. To do justly – To render to every one their due, superiors, equals, inferiors, to be equal to all, and oppress none, in body, goods or name; in all your dealings with men carry a chancery in your own breasts, and do according to equity. To love mercy – To be kind, merciful and compassionate to all, not using severity towards any. Walk humbly with thy God – Keep up a constant fellowship with God, by humble, holy faith,” and;

Whereas, as described in John Gill’s Exposition of The Entire Bible, “to do justice” or “judgment”; means to exercise public judgment and justice, as a king, among his subjects; to do private and personal justice between man and man; to hurt no man’s person, property, and character, and;

Whereas, Justice is doing what is right. It is living by the Golden Rule and making decisions that are good for everyone. It is building relationships in the marketplace, the neighborhood or the family upon goodness, truth, mercy and compassion. It is living above the culture’s values. Justice is the recognition, according to Tom Ehrich, that life matters, how we treat others matters and the choices we make here and now matter. Our decisions reveal our character and make the world better or worse. Pursuing justice makes it better, and;

Whereas, Justice is also making sure that everyone has a seat at the table, a tenant of Methodism from its earliest roots as the first item of the 1908 Social Creed of the Methodist Episcopal Church says, “For equal rights and complete justice for all men in all stations of life,” and;      Continue reading »