Retired Clergy Form Group to Support Bishop Oliveto

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Do we need a better boat

We can probably agree the Gospels do not recount Jesus mentioning anything about homosexuality. I would add that Jesus did not ask his followers to construct church buildings, to appoint bishops, to make rule books and to set up health and pension plans for clergy: The Great Commission did not ask followers to build an institution.

To me, those dissatisfied (disgusted) or satisfied (smug) with the decision in Case No. 1341 are both struggling for one thing - control of the institution. Again, to me, this discussion and struggle is not about Jesus, does not involve the Gospel and diverts attention from the coming reign of God. Instead, the argument about same-sex relations leads inextricably to one side winning and the other side losing.

Jesus offers guidance in such matters, instructing against such "win-lose" discussions. Jesus told his disciples that when they run into people who oppose them, then they are not to argue and fuss, but instead knock the dust off their sandals and move on.

With that message in mind, the rule book, as interpreted by the Judicial Council, states that a bishop cannot be in a married same-sex relationship. So, should Bishop Oliveto consider knocking the dust from her sandals and move on? Such a move would require her to give up her $150,000 yearly salary, her house, her car, her travel, her expense account and other benefits, and look for another place where she can serve.

I anticipate the LGBTQIAPK community exclaim it is unjust that Oliveto and others sharing her situation are being run out of the church because of their orientation. The call is to stay and struggle against such injustice and systems of oppression. And the LGBTQIAPK community asks politely that we ignore that they who struggle maintain their $150,000 yearly salaries, their houses, their cars, their travels, their expense accounts and other benefits while fighting against injustice.

With this stated, the question then is whether Oliveto and others sharing her situation will stay or leave? I can imagine Jesus looking at that question and shaking his head, seeing it akin to small children arguing over who gets to make the rules for the clubhouse in the back yard. But the children don’t see it as a clubhouse, but rather consider the institution as something monumental and substantial, like the Titanic. UMC professionals are bailing frantically to right the institutional ship that is taking on water. They bail because their pots are filled with meat and they eat all the bread they want because of the institutional ship. Sinking means losing the safety and security of the boat and getting out on the water where they could take their eyes off Jesus and flounder.

Hopefully the UMC can regain some perspective, away from clubhouses and boats, and ask different questions - more important questions - like: Is the UMC serving the Gospel, or is the institution using the Gospel to serve itself?

Bill St Clair 89 days ago

Wow. Talk about missing the point.

"I anticipate the LGBTQIAPK community exclaim it is unjust that Oliveto and others sharing her situation are being run out of the church because or their orientation."

(a) There is nothing to anticipate here. This has been causing tension in the UMC since two sentences which had not been discussed for more than a few minutes were inserted into the Book of Discipline in an overtime session at General conference 40 years ago.

b) Unless you're including a huge number of cisgender heterosexuals in that alphabet soup, you are grossly underestimating the number of exclaiming voices.

c) The injustice being addressed is far more than a few clergy having to serve in other communities rather than continuing in the UMC: it extends to the physical survival and provision of basic needs including housing, food, etc. for children and youth who do not happen to have been Created as cisgender heterosexual males or cisgender heterosexual females.

d) Many of us are hoping that God will continue to call our leaders to remain, despite the persecution they are suffering at the hands of some legalists, because WE value their ministries. Ultimately, it is God who calls them to stay or remain, and that call should be honored. If someone is doing a job, that person should be compensated adequately. If the church has fewer resources to do so, the pay will be smaller. Would it be nice to hang onto the institutions which support joint ministry, such as UMCOR? Absolutely. But the greatest issue is that we cannot continue to allow followers of Christ or those seeking Christ to be told their very existence is evil, when a proper application of the Wesleyan quadrilateral makes it clear that God created those individuals and Christ calls them. The institutional perks may be nice, but the battle is about eradicating the evils of making God in one's own image, worshipping idols (literalist Biblianism), and harm of others in the name of God.

Marie C Ugorek 84 days ago

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