Thursday, October 04, 2007

A Spirit of Power and Love: Rev. Kathleen Weber Comes Out

The Rev. Kathleen Weber told members of her congregation at Blaine Memorial United Methodist Church in Seattle this week that she is lesbian. During a sermon by senior minister, Rev. David Nieda, Weber told members she has always known this about herself. No longer willing to be closeted by our denomination's discriminatory policies toward gay and lesbian persons, she courageously chose to come out in a spirit of power and love (1 Timothy 6:6).

Supported by both her congregation and District Superintendent, Weber will remain as pastor at Blaine Memorial. Yet, we can be assured her story is not yet over.

Some in our Church will no doubt interpret her coming out as an affront to the denomination and a break in the clergy covenant. News releases, articles and blogs will rant and rage about the flagrant abuse of church doctrine and law. Calls will be made for charges, a trial and a defrocking. Weber's testimony will be submitted as evidence at the coming General Conference of the irreparable fissure in our denomination and plans for schism will once again surface.

Yet, all this raucous will be nothing more than futile scapegoating. Weber is not the reason for our dis-unity in the United Methodist Church, no more than any other faithful gay, lesbian, bi-sexual transgender person or straight ally. It is not our queer sisters and brothers who have broken covenant, but the Church itself.

The United Methodist Church ceased being the Church when it began to systematically exclude members of Christ's Body on the basis of their sexuality alone. It is the Church and not Weber who has broken covenant by failing to fulfill the promise made at baptism to love and nurture those blessed by God's grace and initiated into the community of faith. Rev. Weber, like so many other beloved lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, has already been grafted into Christ's Body. How can the Church separate them from what has already been made real through the power of God's grace?

“The exclusion of homosexual persons from the life, leadership, and rites of the Church threatens the very nature of the Church itself. It not only causes irreparable harm to the children of God but also to the Body of Christ itself. Each time a person is rejected or ejected from the “koinonia” fellowship of United Methodism, a new wound is inflicted and the Body of Christ is broken once again.”

Rev. Dr. Don Messer in an address to the United Methodist Council of Bishops, May, 2002


Jules said...

I'd read both Seattle Times articles yesterday when sent by a friend. I think you have written a beautiful post on this, Tiffany.


John Oda said...

Tiffany, thank you for the fine summation of Rev. Kathleen's recent disclosure and the current state of the UMC. I am a colleague of Kathleen's. She is an outstanding pastor and a wonderful person. The overflowing love that she has for her ministry is evidence to me that the passion of Christ and God's loving presence dwell deep within her heart and soul. It would be just plain wrong for the church to exclude her from her calling to serve the Body of Christ, simply because of her sexual orientation.

Anonymous said...

I guess more than anything I am so sick of the time wasted on this issue. Let's assume for a minute that we were all cool with each other's sexual preference. Then think of how much energy both side would have to tackle other issues in our world.

But alas, I guess it is mcuh easier to flame someone via email or blog comment on their sexuality than to give of their time and enegry on really loving one another and helping in their local or global community...