Correspondence with Bishop Wm Oden, President

United Methodist Council of Bishops, USA

I sent the following letter to Bishop Oden on 7th Feb 2001, and received a  courteous reply dated 15th Feb 2001, which follows the letter.

Go to Bishop Oden's reply

Dear Bishop Oden

I am an evangelical UK Methodist Local Preacher and, together with my wife, we are writing to ask that you use your best offices to reconsider the position of the UMC regarding Christians in the UMC who are homosexual.

My wife and I, (neither of whom are gay, nor any of our family) were challenged and led by the Lord 8 years ago, from the position that many Christians hold ie one of fear and prejudice, to a ministry of support, affirmation and Christian love. In that time we have shared worship and fellowship with many such people, and are pleased to say that we have many good Christian friends from the gay community. Indeed, some of our finest Christian friends are faithful, loving, committed gay Christians who have taught us much about Christ who was himself 'rejected of men'.

We know from our ministry what effect discrimination, rejection and condemnation have upon people's spirits. We have recently been in contact with a woman in LA whose partner is so broken in spirit by the effects of decisions and statements made by the UMC, Presbyterian, Baptist and Roman Catholic churches that she is in hospital and likely to remain there for some time. This is the effect that bigotry and prejudice have upon people.  To quote another with whom we are in regular direct contact - someone who when she came to us was cutting herself, because of the internal homophobia generated by the loveless, mean-spirited attitude and hate of others from whom should have expected compassion and Christlike love.  The love shwn to her has brought about change. Love heals and reconciles; condemnation demeans and destroys.

Bishop, is love and justice not at the heart of the gospel? Where is it for such people in the UMC?  We implore you to lead and teach your people to open their hearts and minds, as the Lord opened ours and led us on a journey which began reluctantly, but is now a privilege and joy.

Forgive us for writing like this, but we can do no other - the love of Christ constrains.

George and Carol Hopper

Website - www.reluctantjourney.co.uk

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Bishop Oden sent the following reply;

Dear George and Carol

I wanted to acknowledge receiving your letter. I appreciate your sharing with me how your journey in life has led you to a new perspective toward the gay community.

Your letter lifts up the major divisions that we have in the church when it comes to the issue of homosexuality.

I want to thank you for your open and direct letter and for the witness you are obviously making.

Grace and peace

Bill

Wm B Oden

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