those who have learned to love one another
have made their way to the lasting world
and will not leave, whatever happens." Wendell Berry
I want to share with you the recent pastoral letter I have written in response to the Judicial Council ruling and how it affects Open Door and my family in particular. Please read with care, and with prayer and hold it deep in your heart.
As you may or may not know, I have been sharing on Facebook about my friend and colleague Bishop Karen Oliveto who is the Bishop of the Mountain Sky Conference in the Western Jurisdiction. She is making history because she is our first openly gay Bishop in the United Methodist Church. You can imagine the conversation that is happening throughout the connection both in favor of and those who are feeling uncomfortable about the situation. That is the reality of who we are in the United Methodist Church. We are people who are liberal and we are people who are conservative but mostly we are people who place ourselves in the center, the middle way willing to acknowledge that we all fit in this large tent called United Methodism.
As your pastor, I find myself more along the middle left. In some things I am very left but always willing for the Church's sake, to walk along side those who find themselves in the middle right. I hate labels but sometimes that's the only way we understand these kinds of debates.
To understand the ruling of the Judicial Council over the validity of the election and consecration of Bishop Oliveto here is a summary:
1. In a 6-to-3 vote made public, the church’s Judicial Council found that a married lesbian bishop and those who consecrated her were in violation of their “commitment to abide by and uphold the church’s definition of marriage and stance on homosexuality.”
2. Bishop, Karen P. Oliveto of Denver, “remains in good standing” and will undergo procedure to see if anything was violated by the Western Council of Bishops. In essence the ball is back in their courts.
3. The Judicial Council also decided, in separate rulings, that the New York and Illinois regions must ask candidates for the ministry about their sexuality and rule out those who are gay “or in any other way violating the church’s standards on marriage and sexuality.” Board of Ordained Ministries will have to determine how they will implement this particular ruling.
Beyond these rulings and trials, I want you to remember that we are talking about real people both gay and straight who love God and love our church and want to be able to be in ministry in their context.
As a mother, I want you to know that this is particularly significant for me. My son, William Gabriel has been open and honest with me about his sexual identity and has shared with me that he is gay. I love my son and I love my church, but I love my son more! It is my first calling. I hope you understand this.
I don't want to make people agree with me, but I also don't want people to make me turn my son away because we can't decide to live together even with our differences. It seems to me that this is what makes Open Door unique! WE VALUE DIVERSITY! All of it! We are open and affirming of all expressions of humanity and sexuality. It makes us better and much more authentic as a community of faith. Wesley said, "though we may not think alike, may we not love alike!"
Remember the Three Rules that Guide all United Methodist:
Do no Harm
Do all the Good we Can
Stay in Love with God
I have always valued the courageous space that we have created as a community of faith and I am trusting you as my family to hold my son's truth in your hearts and prayers but not to be shared on Facebook or other social media pages or in other conversations outside of the purview of the holy and sacred space.
Thank you so much for your care, love and support! Let us be in Prayer that Unity:UBUNTU will prevail.
Rev. Lydia Muñoz
Church of the Open Door