Dearest UUMC Family:
I’m sure by now that most of you have heard the bad news that came out of the recent called General Conference. Instead of becoming more inclusive and welcoming, our church has retained and hardened the oppressive and discriminatory rules toward LGBTQ persons in our churches. Once again, marriage and ordination in The UMC have been declared out of bounds for our LGBTQ friends, and their full sacred worth continues to be called into question. Because Traditionalists now have a majority at the general church level, it appears extremely unlikely that we will be able to reconcile the two sides on a compassionate way forward.
All of which brings me to this: as of today, I am announcing that I will be practicing marriage equality. I’ve shared this with Bishop Robert Schnase, with our District Superintendent, Rev. Teresa Welborn, and with our leaders at University Church.
I’ve not made this decision lightly. Nor have I made it simply in response to what happened at GC 2019. I came to our UUMC leaders over a year ago to share with them my conviction that as a United Methodist pastor and a supporter of the Reconciling Movement, I could no longer follow our church’s discriminatory rules on marriage. I’ve waited on the outcome of this recent General Conference to share this with you and make it public. Now that GC 2019 has ended in such an abysmal place, I feel that it’s time.
My conviction has also grown out of reading the writings of Martin Luther King, Jr., as I prepared for a sermon last year. This is always a dangerous thing! When King was asked about his thoughts on the dangers of leading the civil rights movement in the south, his answer was that if one is only concerned about one’s own future, nothing great will ever happen for the cause of justice. Let’s be clear – I’m not Dr. King. And I’m not offering up my life, as he did. But I am a voice and an ally in the quest for LGBTQ equality and for social justice. When I read that interview, I felt like it was directed to me.
If we actively resist the discriminatory “rules” of our denomination, there may be consequences for me as your senior pastor. I’m grateful to be a pastor at University Church because your leaders have promised to be a buffer against those consequences. They/You have promised to support me no matter happens. That is such great comfort to me as I take this step out in faith. I’ll be glad to speak more in depth about the implications of my decision at our upcoming home gatherings.
I will stay in close touch with all of you about what’s going on in the larger church and here at University Church. Each week I am with you, you give me hope!
Be strong. God is with us. We are not alone!
Over the next several weeks, you're invited to join in a home meeting to talk about what the future looks like for UUMC, what does marriage equality at UUMC mean and also to hear my plans for the future. Here is list of the upcoming meetings. We hope that you'll pick one close to your home and that everyone won't meet up at the church today. I'd love to hear from folks in smaller gatherings. I hope to see you soon!
March 17 | 12:15 pm | UUMC Fellowship Hall
March 18th | 7:00 pm | Merrill/White Home6138 Mordred LaneAustin Tx, 78739
March 26th | 7:00 pm | Ireson/Cook Home2900 Wade AvenueAustin, Tx 78703
April 4th | 7:00 pm | Kever Home6105 Highland Hills Dr.Austin, Tx 78731