This is from Reconciling Ministries Network a group working for full inclusion of gay and lesbians in the life and ministries of the United Methodist Church. You can also see varying reactions over the recent judicial church rulings at Wesley Blog.
IT IS A TIME TO GATHER TOGETHER
All Saints Eve 2005 is a sad day. Comfort will not come easy. As we prepare to name the losses to the church on all Saints Day, the Judicial Council has lengthened the list considerably. In decisions released today, a majority of the Judicial Council of the United Methodist Church removed the credentials of Rev. Irene Beth Stroud and allowed the reinstatement of a clergyman that refused to accept a gay person as a member declaring his action permissible.
We call upon all United Methodists to respond in prayers offering care to those in denial, shock, grief, dismay, or anger. We encourage you to gather together.
The decisions of the Judicial Council create a tragic moment in the history of our United Methodist Church. The outcomes were surprising in their severity and in their disregard for United Methodism. The harshness toward clergy continues a pattern; the harshness toward lay members is shocking. Be careful. Often such discriminatory rulings unleash long-harbored hatred.
“At the RMN office we received an email that said we should be horsewhipped as well. The UMC has lost sight of its mission, it has lost sight of its Wesleyan heritage, it has lost sight of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It has discarded its integrity even as it has discarded us,” said Sue Laurie outreach coordinator for RMN.
Beth Stroud is a pastor of tremendous gifts. These gifts were acknowledged by every person in every step of this process. The prosecuting counsel repeated it again on October 27. He opened by saying, “We affirm the wonderful pastoral gifts that Rev. Stroud brings to the table.” But he said that this is about the law.
Then the Judicial Council went where no body of the United Methodist Church has ever gone before. They offered to clergy the discretion to deny membership to a class of persons judged to be unacceptable. This is a slippery slope to applying pastoral prejudice in a variety of situations and has great implications for the future of the UMC.
As we minister within our congregations, we will encounter many emotions: righteous anger and impatience, despair, grief, surprise, and hopelessness. There will also be those who wonder why we are so surprised -- for this describes a reality that they have been living under for a long time.
At this time we need to gather together. We are calling upon Reconciling United Methodists to speak up as they never have before. This Sunday is All Saints Day in our Churches. In the call to worship, in the prayers, in the preaching, in the sacraments, in the singing and in the benediction, let us be authentic in our witness -- let us decry the swirling, toxic waters of the UMC and stand firm on the Rock that is Jesus Christ.
We especially keep those in our prayers who are isolated and do not have Reconciling Congregations or Communities to gather with at this time. Please listen to this pastoral message by Dr. Joretta Marshall (RMN board chair, elect) delivered to Bering Memorial UMC on October 30th: