Letter to Aunt Sally
The news about the recent church trial in Pennsylvania has circulated widely in all forms of the secular press. Rev. Frank Schaefer, a member of the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference, officiated at the wedding of his son to another man. Rev. Schaefer was found guilty and received a sentence of 30 days suspension at which time he must agree to uphold the entire Book of Discipline or surrender his credentials. I may comment on the ability to uphold the entire Book of Discipline later but for now, we understand that means he must agree not to perform any more marriages for same-gender couples. It’s my understanding through the media that he has other gay children but aside from that, he believes that it’s his ministry to reach out to all people.
Following the statement put out by the Council of Bishops just prior to this trial, I made my own statements and included the opportunity for others to their share concerns with me. Many people have, including a number of clergy who also have LGBTQ children.
I just received this letter from my own nephew, Dane Ehrman. With his permission, I share it with you.
Dear Aunt Sally,
As you know, I’m gay. We’ve never talked much about this, but I know you’ve been supportive of the LBGTQ Community for many years and have been criticized for that.
With all the new equality bills being passed, it saddened me to learn that your church is still discriminating against people in my community. I’ve read that the Methodist church is going to make some ministers resign for conducting legal same sex marriages for family members. Making a father choose between his son and faith doesn’t seem right, as a large part of faith is your family. I couldn’t imagine making my parents choose between their job (and faith) or supporting me and those I love.
Uncle Ken and you married my cousin a little more than a year ago. I hope that one day you would be able to do the same for me without fear of losing your job.
You know I’m not very religious, but it pains me to think that people are going to have to choose between their loved ones and religious beliefs.
Dane may not be very religious, but he put his finger on the point, recognizing that something is broken in a system that forces people to choose between their livelihood and their loved ones. And of course, it’s bigger than just family members; it’s the family of God. It keeps coming back to the question, “Does all mean all?”
As I said in my open letter last week, how do we make space for all in our communities and church?