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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
April 28, 2006

Ohio clergy join letter to Methodist high court

Chicago--Seventy-five lesbian and gay Methodist clergy, some from Ohio, have sent a letter to the denomination�s high court calling for full inclusion of LGBT people in the life of the church.

The United Methodist Church bars �self-avowed, practicing homosexuals� from ordination, and last year Rev. Beth Stroud was defrocked after she came out to her congregation.

The letter did not include the names of the signers, which are being held by an attorney to prevent possible action against them.

Organized by the Reconciling Ministries Network, the letter was released April 18 a week before the Judicial Council met in Kansas City. The council is the denomination�s highest court.

The Judicial Council was to decide if they would revisit a 2005 decision in which they reinstated a pastor who was fired for denying membership in his congregation to a gay man.

�We have known the church at its best through firsthand experience,� the letter states. �In baptism, we were welcomed into the loving, waiting arms of the family of God.�

It continues, �At the same time, we have known the church at its worst. Since 1972, the United Methodist Church has been on a slow but steady course to exclude LGBT people from the life of the church as a whole.�

�Many in our denomination support this dismembering of Christ�s body. Yet even while our sister Beth Stroud was stripped of her ordination credentials, LGBT clergy continue to serve the church faithfully at every level,� it reads.

The letter was signed by representatives of every Methodist jurisdiction in the United States.

�This letter represents hundreds of clergy from around the United States who are giving their heart and soul to the United Methodist Church and its ministry through work in local congregations and specialized settings,� said Dr. Joretta Marshall, the chair of the Reconciling Ministries Network. �Their voices and experiences are silenced out of fear of losing their standing in the church and, as a result, fear of losing their ability to respond to the call of God for their lives.�

�It is a tragedy that so many good pastoral leaders have to hide and live in fear when they have gifts and graces in abundance to share,� Marshall concluded.

The Reconciling Ministries Network is the Methodist body working to include LGBT people in every facet of the church.

�Yet we know that it is ultimately impossible for the church to amputate us from Christ�s body,� the letter notes. �Even with the most restrictive legislation, LGBT people will still be raised up through the United Methodist Church�s Sunday school and youth programs. They will hear God�s voice calling them into ministry, and boards of ordained ministry will continue to find them called and gifted candidates, regardless of their sexual orientation.�

�Many will realize, as we have, that seeking ordination in another, more welcoming denomination, is impossible - for it is in the UMC that our spirituality is rooted,� it states.

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