Charge conference forms convey racism

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article reprinted from the United Methodist Connection
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September 4, 2002


VOL. 13, NO. 17


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Charge conference forms convey racism

I recently received another pack of forms from the Baltimore-Washington Conference to be filled out for the charge conference. Once again, I am disturbed with the ethnicity line. This entry keeps racism alive and thriving because it tells us to think in terms of how many people of which race are in our congregations. Galatians says, You are all one in Christ Jesus.

Earlier this year Salem UMC in Hebbville received into membership one family from Trinidad and Antigua. We also received two families from Liberia. Although all of these families happen to have black skin, none of them see themselves as African Americans. There is nothing in the list of eight different nationalities on the forms that includes these families.

Since I am classified as Caucasian, I looked up the definition and found it to be someone from a major ethnic division of the human species having certain distinctive physical characteristics such as skin color varying from very light to brown, fine hair ranging from straight to curly. The division is considered to include groups of people indigenous to Europe, northern Africa, southwestern Asia and the Indian subcontinent.

Finally, would someone please explain why the list has African American and Native American, but not Asian American or Hispanic American? Isnt it about time that we called all of us Americans and then we can become one in Christ?

Rev. Lee Anske
Salem UMC, Hebbville

Jesus taught love, not tolerance

I read with great sadness the Rev. Harry C. Kielys recent commentary regarding the voluntary withdrawal of Rebecca Steen from ministry in the United Methodist Church.

Unfortunately, Rev. Kiely seems to represent that liberal segment of the church that has grown so powerful within the conference and the United Methodist Church over the last decade or so. As this faction has grown and steered the church toward the norms and values of the world, it should not shock that church membership has declined overall. These leaders are out of touch with their parishioners desire for Bible-based theology.

We must not forget that Christ did not teach tolerance, but love. We are not to tolerate behaviors and ideas that run contrary to Gods Word, but we are called to love those around us, even our enemies, despite their behaviors and beliefs. This means we must, in love, share the truth. Understanding does not necessitate condoning or enabling acts and ideas that cannot be reconciled with the Word.

In his commentary Rev. Kiely ponders the question, What would Jesus do? Yes, Jesus was radically inclusive during his ministry. He welcomed all, even the outcasts of his society prostitutes, lepers, tax collectors. But he taught, and expected, a change in them.

A better question Kiely may have pondered is, What would Jesus have me do? The answers are in plain enough words in that book in the back of the pew.

Duane Doxzen
St. Paul UMC, Sykesville

IRD shouldnt be silenced on transgender issue

As both a lay member of the Baltimore-Washington Conference and an employee of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, I would like to respond to Rev. Harry C. Kielys letter printed July 3.

First, the Rev. Kielys line of reasoning rejects the diversity and tolerance that Im told is a hallmark of Methodism. Dont Methodists believe in open dialogue? Are we only to listen to our own voices when we discuss important ethical issues?

Second, the IRD and its supporters are hardly outsiders. In fact, thousands of Methodists who are concerned that their churchs social witness has gone awry support the IRD. All too often mainline church leaders speak when they shouldnt, or without the support of their members, and remain silent when they should speak. If Methodists, even those who are also members of IRD, cant share their opinions with fellow Methodists, with whom may they share?

Third, the comparison with the scandal in the Catholic Church is absolutely appropriate: in both situations, discussions on clergy abusing innocent children and transsexual clergy seeking appointments, have been concealed behind layers of closed doors in sessions where only some are allowed to speak and everyone else, mostly the laity, must simply follow along or leave the church. Its also appropriate because both are direct frontal assaults upon traditional church teachings.

The openness and accountability that the IRD has brought have hardly been inappropriate.

Jerald H. Walz
Smithville UMC, Dunkirk

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