How I appreciate your ministry in the church and community. You are making a positive difference for Christ in the North Alabama Conference and beyond.
This blog is in response to yesterday’s Supreme Court decision that legalizes same gender marriage. I write as a bishop who is keenly aware that some of us are disappointed, others of us are celebrating and still others of us feel ambivalent about the decision.
Whatever your perspective on this matter, I am thankful for how deeply connected we are as followers of Jesus Christ. Indeed, our shared experience of serving the living Jesus is greater than any differences we have.
I know that most of our clergy are very clear about their ordination vows in relationship to the Supreme Court decision, even as it places some in a sensitive place with members of their congregations. Even so, the District Superintendents and I have received questions about how the Supreme Court decision affects the United Methodist position on same gender marriage. It does not change the position. It neither requires nor grants the right for our clergy to perform same gender weddings or for them to be held in our churches. Only the General Conference, which represents the worldwide United Methodist Church, determines our response to social issues.
One of the defining characteristics of the United Methodist Church is our interaction with societal matters. In the days ahead I encourage us to continue to reach out to all persons, within and outside of the church, whatever their sexual orientation or beliefs about marriage.
I pray that we will be known as people who show one another great patience and love even as we deal with our differences. May we love each other as Christ loves us (John 13:34-35).
I also pray that we will be known as people who fulfill the church’s mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world (Matthew 28:19-20). As we do so we will continue to make a positive difference in the world for Christ.
As always it is a privilege to serve as your bishop.
Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett