Rev. Jon Powers, chaplain at Ohio Wesleyan University, released the following message, which I share with you via Facebook:
Dear Colleagues and Friends:
This is a confidential and personal missive to you, which you may want to delete (and if you do, I will totally understand, and you need not ever tell me!) I am sending this to you individually, rather than as a group, because I want to honor your individual selectivity to receive this and respond, or not, as you wish.
Here’s the situation: I am in the midst of an historic battle within the United Methodist Church on the issue of my right and responsibility, as a United Methodist minister/ university chaplain, to officiate at a sacred Christian service of marriage for a gay or lesbian couple who have expressed their intention and readiness to be so joined in a covenant of Christian marriage. I, together with over 1,000 of my United Methodist clergy colleagues, have recently signed a commitment to perform such marriages, and have forwarded our individually signed commitments to do so to the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church. In response to this action, 54 prominent UMC pastors (read: socially conservative leaders from very large-member UMC churches, mostly in the south) have written a letter to the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church to demand that the UMC Bishops “enforce (UMC) church law against clergy who have pledged to conduct same-sex unions.”
I am clearly, calmly, and serenely in the middle of all this: I signed the commitment this past summer. Yet even prior to that, last Fall 2010, I performed, not a “civil union,” but a full-scale United Methodist Wedding for two Ohio Wesleyan University alumna, together with about 150 of their closest family and friends – parents, siblings, uncles and aunts, grand-parents, OWU friends, and professional colleagues – and that wedding was photographically celebrated in a subsequent edition of the OWU Magazine.
On this coming Sunday evening, 7:00 p.m., October 9, 2011, at Asbury United Methodist Church, 55 Lincoln Avenue, Delaware, Ohio, I will be the guest preacher for the local Delaware Christian Gay-Straight Alliance in Delaware, Ohio. The title of my sermon will be “My Methodist Manifesto: How the Gospel of Jesus Christ Compels Me to Bless Same-Sex Couple Marriages.”
I invite you to join me in a variety of ways; please let me know if you can be present, and if any of the following roles might be something you might like to do to be present with me in this moment:
• Simply be present
• Participate in the liturgical aspects of the service as one who
o Reads a scripture
o Offers a prayer
If, on the other hand, you cannot be present with us in person for this event, I fervently bid your thoughts and prayers next Sunday night, as we participate in this moment of commitment and celebration.