An Open Letter to Bishop Ough

(This letter is in response to Bishop Scott Jones's recent article here, "Blest Be the Tie That Binds.")

Dear Bishop Ough:

For years you have told the clergy of Minnesota to come and converse with you about doing same gender weddings in our churches and in our ministry.  You have told us to stay within the letter of the church law so that you can support us.  You have reminded us that United Methodists do not agree.  You have been a voice for unity.

Your ministry has been very strategic in positioning yourself and your cabinet to prevent trials in Minnesota.  In 1992 I would have been pleased with a bishop who was working with me to safely reach out in ministry.  In 2016 our church needs bishops to faithfully welcome all people and prophetically call our church to change.  Our world needs us to lead with bold inclusion.

I believe our church's position now perpetuates and empowers the practice of bigotry and condemnation of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer and inter-sex members of our churches and communities.  Our policies support those who refuse to open the doors of the church or society to all people.  When good people are silent we are endorsing those who will exclude.  Too many people have been condemned.  Too many youth have committed suicide.  Too many of the best and brightest have left our church.  When we are silent in Minnesota, Bishop Scott Jones actions speak for our church.  I refuse to be silent when a Bishop pushes one of my colleagues to leave the denomination.

My ministry has included doing multiple same gender weddings since they have been legal in Minnesota and the blessing of relationships before the wedding option was legal.  I have also hosted services in the churches where I am appointed.  I plan to publicly and joyfully live out my call to ministry for all people.  I choose to be obedient to my Calling to Word, Sacrament, and Order to our world.  Please join me in joyfully leading into the new season of following God's call to welcome all people.

Reverend Walter Lockhart
May 2016

 

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