I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.
Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
John 13:34-35I greet you in the very name of our Lord, Jesus Christ!Difficult letters, like difficult conversations are never easy. However, God never promised us easy, and there are times when we must take up the cross and walk in faith. I write today not representing the United Methodist Church, for only General Conference can do that. So, even though I write this letter as your Bishop, I hope it will also be received as your friend in Christ.With the signing by Governor Gregoire of a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in Washington as of June 7th, the state joins six others in recognizing this union. Personally, I celebrate the signing into law of the legalization of same-sex marriage for our state. It is an historic moment for the people of this geographic region, and it marks a secular turning point in the liberation of those who have too long been oppressed in our current times. I celebrate with those who will be free to enjoy equal health and security benefits through the state institution of marriage.I also personally grieve over our United Methodist Church polity that will not recognize same-sex marriage. I believe that it is wrong, and we should work for a more inclusive and humane response. The reason for this stance is that I believe that Jesus Christ is the incarnation of God's divine love for the entire creation, and no one should be shut out from God's embracing Grace. God's Grace is so pure and encompassing that anything that attempts to limit or control this love must be transformed.-read the full letter at Reconciling Minisgtries Network(emphasis added)
More than a thousand United Methodist clergy across the United States have signed statements committing themselves to fulfill their vow to ministry by marrying or blessing couples regardless of their gender. More than a third of the population of the United States lives where marriage or civil unions for gay and lesbian couples are legal. When parishioners come to their pastors to request that they officiate at their weddings, ministers face a conflict between their vow to minister to their whole congregation and their vow to uphold the Book of Discipline which asks them to deny ministry to some of their members.
When it comes to supporting gay marriage in Washington, there may be one question even more divisive for Christians than the one they're likely to see on the November ballot.
What would Jesus do?
"There's churches on both sides of that in Yakima," the Rev. David Helseth of Englewood Christian Church said. "I expect there will be some congregations and leaders that are very vocal."
Helseth is one of numerous church leaders locally who won't be addressing the issue from the pulpit anytime soon. He said he knows church members who support and oppose gay marriage, and he would rather promote civil dialogue than something that could seriously divide the congregation.
"We are not going to exclude anybody," Helseth said. "Everyone has a place at Christ's table."
The Rev. Mike Scheid of Yakima's Central Lutheran Church said gay marriage hasn't been seriously addressed within his congregation yet, and that's likely because the issue is still ongoing. Scheid said he thinks the topic will become a bigger issue later in the year when a likely referendum settles the question of legalization.