We the members of Bethany United Methodist Church, in our discernment of God's will for this community of faith, re-affirm our policy to provide support, opportunity and space for the celebration of holy unions or same-gender commitment ceremonies. We will also continue to provide our prayerful and loving support for Bethany's pastor and any other United Methodist clergy who choose to celebrate the unions of same-gender couples. As lay-people within this congregation we will explore ways in which we can play a more active role in the celebration of Holy Unions and become equal partners with United Methodist clergy who continue to offer this important ministry. Finally, we call upon the larger Church to re-examine its official policy on same-gender commitment ceremonies and in love and charity pledge ourselves towards the repeal of this unjust policy.
On August 16, 1998, members of Bethany United Methodist Church met following the worship service to discuss the recent ruling of the Judicial Council regarding Holy Unions and same-gender commitment ceremonies. Those members present spoke of their anger, pain, shame, grief, and bewilderment over the Judicial Council's pronouncement and sought to discern a thoughtful response, a response which must reflect Jesus' loving respect and concern for all persons.
Prior to the Judicial Council's recent ruling, our congregation adopted a policy that affirmed and supported all couples who wished to publicly acknowledge and celebrate their life partnership at Bethany. We expressed our loving support for any Bethany pastor and any United Methodist clergy who continued to offer this vital ministry in the face of the prohibition contained in the Social Principles. Further, we affirmed the importance of our connection and heritage as United Methodists and agreed collectively that we would accept responsibility as a congregation for any disciplinary actions taken in response to our policy
Having read the findings of the Judicial Council of The United Methodist Church, having reviewed our previous policy supporting Holy Unions and same- gender ceremonies, and having earnestly sought God's guidance through discussion and continued prayerful reflection, we the members of Bethany United Methodist church re-affirm our Holy Union Statement:
We believe that God's Spirit is still at work in the world reconciling us in Christ's love to God and to one another. We believe that the celebration of committed life partnerships within the context of the Bethany family is sign and symbol of God's continued reconciliation and blessing for all of us.
We believe that our stance on this issue is a reflection of our Wesleyan heritage and our historic United Methodist commitment to social justice. We are a congregation that has taken seriously our pledge to "resist evil in all its forms." For many years Bethany United Methodist Church and the preceding congregations (Trinity, Grace, Epworth) have shared a common history of struggle against racism, sexism, classism and other forms of oppression. We understand homophobia as one more form of oppression that we must resist and overcome -- particularly within the life and ministry of the larger Church.
We believe that the celebration of holy unions for same-gender couples is deeply rooted in who we are as a community of faith in this place and time. Through the years, we at Bethany have learned to treasure our diversity. We are Filipino, African American, Chinese, Latino, European American, mixed heritage, gay, lesbian, heterosexual, ordained clergy, laypeople, those with long histories in The United Methodist Church and those who are quite new to this heritage. We have discovered in ourselves a common thirst for spirituality and human companionship. We have celebrated births and baptisms, and mourned loss and death as we journeyed together over time. We have become family. We can do no less than celebrate and marvel at the work of God's Spirit when two members of our family become united in love.
Adopted by the Administrative Board on behalf of the congregation of Bethany United Methodist Church on September 1, 1998.
Bethany's home page is at http://members.aol.com/bethanyum2/
Bethany's e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.