Tag Archive for same-sex marriage

Local church forges ahead with LGBTQ marriage ceremonies

Boulder, Colorado – In spite of the rejection of revised policies regarding inclusion of LGBTQ individuals voted on last week by the international gathering of United Methodists in Tampa, Florida, a local congregation is vowing to move forward on its own path of inclusion and social justice.

 First United Methodist Church of Boulder is a welcoming faith community dedicated to “honoring the sacred worth of every human being in a way that creates and sustains a Beloved Community.”   Both the appointed pastors and the lay members of the congregation affirm that they are among the people following the path of Jesus and of Methodist founder John Wesley by welcoming everyone into their midst, stating that they are enriched, as individuals and as a community, when diversity is honored, welcomed and celebrated.

“It’s heart-breaking what happened – or more accurately, didn’t happen – in Tampa this week,” senior pastor Dr. Patrick Bruns stated following several votes which rejected efforts to open up institutional church policies to include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in full acceptance and participation in the church.  “But I am reassuring our congregation and the Boulder community that those votes were far from the final word.  Our commitment to following Jesus’ Path has been called out even stronger and we plan even more energetically to pursue bold action, non-violent resistance, and courageous commitment to love, justice and peacemaking.”

Rev. Bruns made news recently by declaring that he and the other pastors at First United Methodist Church of Boulder were prepared to offer church ceremonies for committed and consenting adult life partners, regardless of their gender.  Referring to a broadly supported “Fuller Marriage Ministry” that offers ceremonies and holy unions for same-sex couples, the pastors and congregation recently notified their local Bishop of their intention to move forward in this ministry regardless of church policies to the contrary.

“It has been a unifying and energizing experience in our congregation to have leaders who are so committed to social justice and inclusivity,” noted Becca Tice, chairperson of the Affirming and Welcoming Committee which promotes the full inclusion of the LGBTQ community within the church.  “We won’t pretend that this week’s votes weren’t enormously disappointing but we don’t intend to be defined, defeated or deterred by those votes.”

United Methodists from around the globe gather every four years to consider changes to their Book of Discipline which serves as both “Constitution” and more specific, practical guidebook for how the church is to be run.  Policies detrimental and discriminatory to lesbian and gay individuals have been included in the Book of Discipline since the early 1970s but the actual implementation of policies, in practice, has varied from state to state and country to country.

Closer to home, United Methodists in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming (known as the Rocky Mountain Conference) will gather for their annual conference in Denver about six weeks from now.  Decisions made by the international conference likely will be fodder for both formal and informal discussion at that conference.  Many local individuals already are contemplating actions to express their grave disappointment and disapproval of the votes by the international body and considering ways to bring about future changes.

“We honor and respect the tremendous good work which the United Methodist Church has accomplished in so many ways since its beginning in the 18th century,” said Justin Livingston, Chair of Church Council. “We believe our world needs more instruments of God’s love, grace, and justice, not fewer, and that’s why we will continue to embrace everyone as welcomed participants in God’s family as we experience it at First United Methodist Church of Boulder.”

Take 2 or ? on the Mayor and Marriage Equality

There has recently been a good deal of sharp discussion in Longmont over the Mayor’s declaration of some support of “civil unions,” whereby so-called “same-sex marriages” result.

First, it looks like most of the noise originates from sour grapes over the November election. Second, there may be semantic bias — for example, “support” might not mean “approval.” Third, it is difficult for me to decide whether the whole subject is political or religious. These are THE two topics one NEVER brings up in family gatherings, after all.

At the risk of sounding self-righteous (he who is not guilty may cast the first stone), I wonder if some of the rhetoric about the matter may represent some intolerance. I’m not thrilled over “civil (same-sex) unions,” but I recall that many Americans were anything but pleased about allowing African-Americans to vote. The matter easily boils down to consideration of what persons do (vote, marry, invest, eat, die), versus what they are (Caucasian, Republican, Lutheran, homosexual). Not a little of our intolerance can often bounce out of the mirror and strike us upside the head. I know, it’s happened to me.

The question keeps coming up for me: what “class” of citizen am I, really? We can impute all kinds of “meaning” to the symbols in our lives, assuming they are truly needed. If symbols become their objects or their artists, what then? Much of the time one’s point of view determines his reality and acceptance of it. Who’s to say the animals in the zoo do not consider that the bars somehow hold us in, not out?

We have an interest in expecting some things, including much but NOT ALL the behavior of our public servants. The recent case of Hygiene’s fire chief comes to mind. His actions potentially threatened public safety; the actions of people (and that’s all they are) seeking a way to bequeath an estate to a legal “joint tenant” instead of a dachshund don’t harm anyone. I wonder what would have happened if Longmont’s Mayor had said he is gay. But, again, that would be an “is,” not a “do.”

What does a mayor do? In the Longmont form of government the Mayor is really one of the members of City Council. The Mayor administers nothing (a City Manager does that). A mayor can be a booster and a spokesperson in that he or she officially auditions the City to receive benefits including business as well as largesse from higher levels. But the mayor is not a priest whose utterances lobby the Almighty. If citizens expect a mayor to reflect their own thinking to a “T,” there will be disappointment. Group-think reached its nadir in Germany between 1932 and 1945. It works poorly.

Any mayor must represent an entire constituency and not only a slice of it. Those who insist otherwise will probably not be able to stop on the retreat past a very primitive organization of society (think family-clan-tribe), but will likely proceed to a point where Longmont has 87,000 mayors. That’s called anarchy.

In “Fiddler on the Roof” Tevye relaxes his practices for two of his daughters, but he never stops keeping his head covered. What he does socially is compartmentalized from what he is and remains. No mayor ceases being a citizen or a father or a husband or a sibling just because of an election.

I believe a city is fortunate when it has a leader who tries to DO that city’s business, not BE the city’s business. There be dragons in that, a lesson learned in too many places the hard way.