– Reposted with permission –

 

It is by living and dying that one becomes a theologian, Martin Luther said. With that comment in mind, we have resumed a Century series published at intervals since 1939 and asked theologians to reflect on their own struggles, disappointments, questions and hopes as people of faith and to consider how their work and life have been intertwined.

 -Paul J. Griffin, November 3, 2009

 

The Methodist and now the United Methodist Church have a history as all persons and institutions do, of changing. “We (still) affirm our long-standing support of abstinence from alcohol…” But we say, “…with regard to those who choose to consume alcoholic beverages, judicious use with deliberate and intentional restraint, with Scripture as a guide.”

Methodist attitudes and actions that once supported slavery, racial segregation and prohibitions against the ordination of women have changed. How then does the “Mind” of The United Methodist change in regards to marriage equality for same sex couples?

A story my preacher-father used to tell in his sermons came to mind as I watched the TV coverage of same sex couples being married in those states that have recently legalized same sex marriage. The story; A preacher was powerfully eloquent as he preached his sermon challenging the young people in the congregation to consider becoming missionaries. At the end of his sermon he issued an altar call, asking those young people who would say “yes” to missionary service to come forward and kneel at the communion rail. As he began his prayer, he noticed out of the corner of his eye that his young adult daughter was coming forward to respond to his challenge. He continued his prayer, but as he was praying, he walked over to his daughter and as she was getting ready to kneel, he said to her; “Judy, I didn’t mean you, please go back to your seat.”

We as United Methodists have said this about The Mission and Ministry of the Church regarding Inclusiveness: “Inclusiveness means openness, acceptance, and support that enables all persons to participate in the life of the Church, the community, and the world. Thus, inclusiveness denies every semblance of discrimination.”

How much longer as we preach, teach and practice this understanding of inclusiveness, will we continue to say to some people; “But, we didn’t mean you”?

Rev. Gil Caldwell

The Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell is a retired United Methodist Minister who lives in Asbury Park, N.J. He was active in the Massachusetts unit of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and participated in the civil-rights movement throughout the nation. In 2000, he, with others, organized the RMN Extension ministry United Methodists of Color for a Fully Inclusive Church (UMOC), an organization committed to the full inclusion of LGBT people in every aspect of church and society. His recent book, Something Within: Works by Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell is available from Church Within A Church. Gil's advocacy efforts were also featured in the film "From Selma to Stonewall - Are We There Yet?" Learn more at truthinprogress.com

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