Note: Full Statement of Greeting to Ellie Charlton and Jeanne Barnett is at the end of this article.
The spokespersons for Affirmation and CORNET have sent greetings to Ellie Charlton and Jeanne Barnett, the lesbian couple whose covenant service is to be celebrated tomorrow in Sacramento, California. The couple, together for fourteen years, are long time leaders among lay people in the California-Nevada annual conference of the United Methodist Church.
Jeanne Knepper, of Portland, Oregon, and Morris Floyd, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, told the couple, in part, "We rejoice in God's Presence made known in and through your relationship and in the covenant between you that Christ makes possible. We give thanks for your witness and for that of the clergy and laity standing with you in Sacramento and across the church."
The spokespersons said, "From at least two perspectives, the importance of this event would be difficult to overstate. Perhaps most important is that fact that two mature women, one who is a great-grandmother, go very public in affirming and celebrating their union and the many years of faithful commitment to one another they have already shared. They defy every negative stereotype of same-gender relationships. It is likely they will function as role models for many young lesbians and gay men across the country.
"Secondly, the service will put dozens of pastors on the line, literally offering up their clergy credentials in witness against the church's ungodly prohibition of these covenants. We hope it will help United Methodists everywhere to acknowledge the reality that God's movement is not limited by the mistakes in theology and biblical interpretation of those who oppose them.
"Nor do we want to discount the quieter and even more widespread testimony of the hundreds of other United Methodist clergy who have publicly stated their willingness to celebrate a same-sex covenant service or that of the thousands more whose ongoing pastoral responsiveness is less public. Equally critical is the support of hundreds of thousands of United Methodist lay people who know their pastors must follow their conscience, even if they do not necessarily agree with them."
More than 80 co-officiating clergy will join the couple's pastor, the Rev. Don Fado in celebrating the service in the Sacramento Civic Center. They will be joined by about the same number of co-officiants in absentia from around the country. Co-officiating clergy could lose their clergy status as a result of church charges that might be brought against some or all of them.
Jeanne Knepper and Morris Floyd
Spokespersons Affirmation: UMLGBT Concerns and the Covenant
Relationships Network (CORNET)