Following last week's top story, "Holston Conference lay leader and resident bishop respond to statement of 33 retired bishops," readers were invited to send letters to the editor. Because the conference email system experienced technical problems last week, some letters may not have been received. Send letters (250 word limit) to firstname.lastname@example.org with "C-Mail" in the subject line.
(Letters in order received:)
Thanks so much for supporting not only our Book of Discipline but also the Bible. In this time of political correctness often core values are threatened. While I like that we are open minded as a church I am very thankful that decisions such as these are biblically based.
Valley View UMC
I served in the Western Michigan Conference with Bishop Ott (1997-2000) as resident bishop and Sharon Rader as my district superintendent (1989-1991). Sharon Rader was one of the best superintendents I have served with in my ministry over the last 23 years.
Bishops Rader and Ott are both now retired bishops whom I will always hold in the highest regard. But we must "agree to disagree" on the issue of homosexuality. I accept and uphold the current Book of Discipline. However it seems the 33 retired bishops (including Rader and Ott) are undermining the Book of Discipline. Because of this, I fear our denomination will grow more and more divisive and we will lose our name "United" Methodists. That will be a sad day indeed.
Rev. Janet Sweet Richardson
Bean Station, Tenn.
The history of the Church has evolved through the years because some faithful, grace-filled persons chose to stand up against the status quo. Thank goodness for those who didn’t hear "no" as the final word. Remember church history: Paul to the Gentiles, Martin Luther and the Reformation, John Wesley preaching in the fields, women who were called to preach when the Church told them NO, Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights leaders, divorced persons who challenged the church’s stance against divorced pastors. The 33 retired bishops have presented a wise and well-constructed statement that deserves response not reaction, prayer not prejudice, thoughtful consideration not terse criticism. There is room at the table for all of God’s children whether we like it or not.
Ginny West Case
First Maryville UMC
I have been a member of the Methodist Church for some 50 years, and a lay member for the past four years. If the Church removes this paragraph from the Discipline, then I will remove myself from the Church.
Thank you Bishop Swanson and Mary Ruth Richards for being faithful in upholding the Book of Discipline in response to the 33 retired bishops' wishes. Their proposed change would, in effect, allow self avowed practicing homosexuals to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in any capacity in the UMC. The church has been in dialogue on this subject for almost 40 years (since 1972) and has reaffirmed at every General Conference that homosexual practice is incompatible with Christian teaching. At the same time, scientific study has found that homosexuality is not genetic (like skin color or eye color). There is anguish connected to this subject because we all know people whom we love who are homosexuals.
The Book of Discipline is based on Scripture as being the primary source and criterion for Christian doctrine. Every scriptural reference to homosexuality is negative. These retired bishops, who are charged with guarding the faith, are speaking against what they vowed to uphold. Most of us in the pews (as evidenced by the online responses to the retired bishops' proposal) wish to adhere to moral truth determined by God, not by what man decides. Our prayer is that our bishops, clergy and laity will be faithful to God's Word, as they abide by the rulings of General Conference.
Gerry and Betsy Kersey
Broad Street UMC
I was appalled when I read that 33 retired bishops favored ordaining gays and lesbians as United Methodist clergy. I applaud Bishop Swanson's statement regarding the ever present issue. We do need to uphold our Book of Discipline, but more importantly, we need to uphold what the Bible says about it.
Rev. Pat Bishop (retired)
In response to The Call's invitation for a response to the statement from 33 retired bishops concerning accepting homosexuals into the clergy, I noted there is no reference about their position being in agreement with scripture. Rather, they elevate the Discipline to a position of both divine and ultimate authority. They indicate even that great document is in need of correction for its "errors," due to their great discovery of this supposed error.
One Bishop Rader went so far as to tell us her position is due to "conversations with students." How sad that our bishops have been allowed to serve in their capacity with so shallow dependence (if any) reliance on the scriptures. Is it any wonder our denomination has suffered such great decline during the reign of these supposedly great shepherds of the flock?
First Johnson City UMC
Johnson City, Tenn.
In disgust I had deleted the original email and determined to withdraw my pledge to the local church building program and reevaluate my continued membership (the original email title omitted the "retired" adjective). Several days later in preparation to advise you of this I did retrieve the email from trash and saw that this was a statement from retired bishops.
The present statement is only slightly reassuring in that it makes obvious that this is up for reversal every four years. I have difficulty supporting a long term (as opposed to maintenance) investment in facilities which are "owned' by an organization which may adopt policies which I would find reprehensible and contrary to many parts of scripture.