The following is adapted from remarks made by Sr. Pastor David Carr on Mother’s Day, May 13, in worship.
For those of you who have not yet heard, at the General Conference of the United Methodist Church, none of the efforts to remove the discriminatory language from our denomination’s Book of Discipline against lesbian and gay people passed. In fact, even the most moderate changes were defeated. I have heard from, this past week, several people in other churches who have felt the need to tell somebody this, and so they told me: They have decided that they can no longer be United Methodists. We have had one person from our congregation ask that their membership be removed from Kessler Park UMC and the United Methodist Church.
I fault no one who decides they can no longer be part of our denomination. I understand why some are choosing to leave. Having said that, I want to share with you what I think are new signs of hope. I also want to say a word about how I intend to go ahead as senior pastor of Kessler Park United Methodist Church.
The biggest sign of hope is you, Kessler Park United Methodist Church. You make the difference by who you are and the witness you make. You are a sign of hope. You are smart, passionate, and committed. I know it must be hard sometimes for you to share your story, your witness with someone, those of you who are gay and lesbian. I am very proud of you and grateful for you.
Another sign of hope is something that happened at General Conference: an effort by the pastors of our two most visible evangelical mega-churches in the country. Rev. Adam Hamilton, pastor of Church of the Resurrection UMC in Leawood, Kansas, and Rev. Michael Slaughter, pastor of Ginghamsburg UMC in Tipp City, Ohio, took the public step to give evangelicals and moderates permission not to condemn gay and lesbian people and to think differently about these matters than they had been given permission to think before.
Their petition lost, but it was a very significant witness they made. Rev. James Howell, pastor of Meyers Park United Methodist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, became the first pastor from a significant UMC from the south to make the public witness at General Conference that we need to acknowledge to the world that there are United Methodists who believe in the inclusion of lesbian and gay people fully within the life of the church.
There may be those of you who have a calling to witness and to teach and to change the United Methodist Church. The United Methodist Church is one of our mission fields. Not everyone in this congregation is called to that. Some of us may have a mission to feed the hungry, some of us may have a mission to end homelessness, some of us may have a mission to teach English as a Second Language. There are a diversity of callings in this congregation. Some of us have a mission to heal our denomination. And, as your pastor, I will support this calling one hundred percent. In the conduct of my personal ministry as your senior pastor, my intention is to serve Jesus Christ before whom there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, straight nor gay.
In this church we will treat everyone as a child of God. God has no bastard children in this church. We will baptize everyone who comes to be baptized. We will confirm everyone who comes to be confirmed in the church. We will elect everyone who has gifts for leadership into any office in this church. We will teach a God who is no respecter of persons and who welcomes and loves all of us.
In other words, we will keep on being the Church of Jesus Christ here. We know who God is. We know who Jesus is. We know who we are. We will be transparent about our beliefs and practices.
So we are going to keep on being the Church of Jesus Christ as God reveals to us how we should live together and how we should witness to the world. Amen.