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Old 12-06-2005, 11:37 AM
Jennifer L. Battiest
 
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Default Theo Faculty Statement


Grace to you and peace through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

We believe the Spirit of Jesus Christ is alive and well in the Church, kindling flames of love in our hearts and stirring within us a passion for justice. Yet we are dismayed by the recent rulings of the Judicial Council that suggests some in the Church do not share the vision of a Church with open minds, open hearts, and open doors.

The stripping of Beth Stroud’s elders ordination and the decision that a pastor has the right to bar a gay man from membership in the local church perpetuate spiritual abuse against persons because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. It is spiritual abuse because it roots human prejudices and fears in the heart of God. We deplore spiritual abuse as contrary to the Gospel of Christ.

In the wake of widespread shock and revulsion to the Judicial Council’s rulings, the Council of Bishops unanimously issued an affirmation that “homosexuality is not a barrier” to membership in the United Methodist Church. While we appreciate the pastoral response of the Council of Bishops, it does not go far enough. The hearts and minds and doors of the United Methodist Church remain – at best – only partially open. The Church continues to perpetrate spiritual abuse when it welcomes GLBT people into the Church, while simultaneously excluding “self-avowed, practicing homosexuals” from ordained ministry and stating – as the Book of Discipline does – that “homosexual practice is incompatible with church teaching.” We call on the Church to apply equally its power to discern the call to ministry, without discrimination based on sexual orientation. We also call on the Church to recognize the possibilities for spiritual healing and wholeness in sexual expression that takes place within a loving, committed, mutual relationship.

The Church’s proclamation of love and justice has too often been marked by arrogance and exclusivity. Yet God continues to call us to fellowship across the many barriers that historically have divided us – race and language and economic status, and yes, even sexual orientation and gender identity. We stand with a great cloud of witnesses who have always beckoned the Church beyond its narrowness and its fear, into a wider fellowship of people reconciled to God and to each other by grace through faith.

Faithfully,

The Faculty of Theology
Drew Theological School
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