Message from Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett


Sept. 26, 2013

Dear Clergy and Lay Members of the North Alabama Annual Conference,

Good things are happening in North Alabama. I am appreciative of you and your ministry. You are making a difference in your churches and communities.

I want to share with you my press release in response to an upcoming event planned by two North Alabama lay persons and a bishop from another region in the country. I have urged the bishop to not officiate at the event which centers on a complex issue that is polarizing our society and church. The anticipated media coverage of this event will test our capacity to remain focused on our vision, mission and priorities that have emerged over the past year. Please join me in committing to stay focused on the mission of the United Methodist Church to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Thank you for your prayers for all involved as well as your leadership and ministry.

Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett

Sept. 30, 2013

Dear Friends,

I posted a message/press release on the web-site this past Thursday evening so that United Methodists of North Alabama would not be caught off guard if and when our Conference receives a large amount of media coverage with the upcoming ceremony.  The result has been a lot of conversation within our Conference throughout the weekend. I have received many emails and dozens of people have posted comments on our Conference website.  Thank you for your responses.

As I listened to the conversation, I realized that it would be helpful to add to the statement for clarity. I want to share this updated statement with you.

I invite each of you to join me in prayer for the ministry of our local churches, the North Alabama Conference and The United Methodist Church worldwide.  As this and other conversations continue I encourage all of us United Methodists to model love and respect for each other even in our differences.

Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett

Click here to download press release 
- updated 09/30/2013


1. J. Terry Walker wrote on 9/27/2013 11:55:25 AM
Thank you for standing up for Biblical truths and the laws of the book of Discipline. The UMC need more Bishops with your heart and understanding of the truth. Thank you again for your stand. Terry Walker Jurisdictional Delegate NAUMC
2. Ted Peterson wrote on 9/27/2013 12:00:57 PM
Obviously this will generate a lot of comments. I am of mixed mind about the issue itself but whatever our stance there it seems to me that this is a chargeable offence: Not only is there the issue of performing a wedding for a same-sex couple, but also there is the issue of invading someone else's parish without their permission.
3. Becky Mantooth wrote on 9/27/2013 2:55:49 PM
As a member of the United Methodist Church in this conference since my confirmation at 12-years of age, I am disappointed at the lack of progress this conference as a whole has had. Other conferences in our country are showing more love, understanding, and Biblical obedience by ignoring the hypocritical and contradictory statements in the UMC Book of Discipline. We say we welcome everyone. We claim that everyone has sacred worth, but our practices against the LGBTQ community are insulting and degrading. Many of my unchurched friends love God but despise a religious organization that treats LGBTQ persons as lesser individuals. God created them. Biologists and Psychologists today claim that sexuality is not a choice; therefore, The Creator has given it to us the same as our skin color and eye color. The LGBTQ persons who worship God in my church produce fruits of the spirit on a regular basis, more evidence of their alignment with God. In Acts, God teaches his apostle that if God has made someone clean, then no other human should say the person in question is unclean. If the Spirit of God is in the lives of an LGBTQ person, then the church is wrong in stating otherwise. Shame on the church for its discrimination. If a church law is unjust, then it should be broken! I'm proud that a bishop in the UMC is standing up against the injustice. I pray that one day our church will live up to its creed and the command of God to love of neighbors as ourselves!
4. Brittany Burrows wrote on 9/27/2013 5:52:23 PM
Jesus was polarizing, too. I am proud of Bishop Talbert for taking a stand for justice, as he did in the struggle for black civil rights. We cannot fulfill our mission of making disciples for the transformation of the world without advocating for justice for all people, as Jesus did. Love and congratulations to Joe and Bobby!
5. Joanna Jones Deuser wrote on 9/27/2013 6:05:09 PM
The church should be ashamed. The Jesus I worship preached of love and acceptance. How can we claim to be Christians and not want to advance the cause of LGBT rights. Civil rights. Our children will look back at this issue like we look at our parents generation on interracial marriage and relations. God is love. There is so much hate in the world, why is the church worried about two people loving each other? Congrats to Joe and Bobby. Your love is beautiful! I celebrate with you in your union.
6. Regina Jimenez wrote on 9/27/2013 6:13:05 PM
I know the two lay people in your statement. Do you? The two lay people in this statement love each other and want to make a committment to each other. I expect that you do not know these two people and you are making a judgement. It is not for you to judge based only on their genders. Jesus never judged. You shouldn't either.
7. Meghan Richardson wrote on 9/27/2013 6:19:38 PM
Bishop Wallace-Padgett, I feel blessed beyond measure to have had the opportunity to welcome you to our Conference as our first female Bishop just this time last year at the Gathering of the Orders. Had it not been for the following changes to the Book of Discipline, that event or you living the out the true calling for your life would not have happened: On May 4, 1956, in Minneapolis, Minnesota the General Conference of the Methodist Church approved full clergy rights for women. This was done by adding one sentence to the Book of discipline: “All foregoing paragraphs, chapters and sections of Part III{of the Book of Discipline} shall apply to women as well as to men.” Bishops were now required to appoint every pastor in good standing, regardless of gender. Maud Jensen was the first woman to be granted full clergy rights after this decision, in what is now the Central Pennsylvania Annual Conference. Grace Huck was another woman accepted into probationary status as part of this historic vote, and she was received into full connection in 1958. She recalls the resistance to her ministry by a male member of her church in one of her early appointments. She has been quoted as saying that when the district superintendent told the congregation he was appointing a woman minister, one man shouted, “there will be no skirts in this pulpit while I'm alive.” She also noted that later he became one of her best supporters. In 1968, when the United Methodist Church was formed from the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church, Methodist women clergy were afforded the right of full connection. In 1980, the first woman, Marjorie Matthews, was elected and consecrated as a bishop within the United Methodist Church. In 1984, the first African-American woman, Leontine T. Kelly was elected and consecrated as a bishop. Likewise, I feel blessed beyond measure to have attended church with and to have befriended the same sex couple planning to celebrate their already legally recognized marriage with a Christian ceremony that affirms their faith in God and their commitment to each other. I have been a guest in their home, received words of wisdom and advice from them and have the utmost respect and love for these two wonderful men. I look forward with great joy to attending their wedding next month. As a lifelong United Methodist, I also hope that changes to "church doctrine" will allow those like Joe & Bobby, who are equals in the eyes of God despite what anyone speaks here on earth, to one day have affirmation of who they have been created to be as they too live out their calling by the leadership of the church they call home.
8. Kelly Jacobs wrote on 9/27/2013 6:29:14 PM
We are commanded to love God, love each other, and judge not. I am struggling to see how a blanket church policy on an issue that is about who a person is isn't judging. How is saying, "No, I won't help you be closer to God?" the right thing to do? I don't understand.
9. Bill McMullen wrote on 9/27/2013 6:31:09 PM
Same sex couples are vital, committed members of churches throughout our conference and denomination. For us to claim that all persons are of sacred worth and then treat those vital, committed members as of lesser worth than others is simply being dishonest. We want their service. We want their resources. But we do not acknowledge that they are as legitimate as what we perceive to be "normal" persons. The church, in taking an antiquated view of Scripture, denied women an equal place in the faith throughout the centuries. I thank God that my denomination grew beyond that. I pray that we will grow to treat our LGBT brothers and sisters as a full part of our faith communities in all ways. Rather than scolding Bishop Talbert, we should be celebrating his vision and courage. God bless your union, Joe and Bobby.
10. Marylyn Pettit wrote on 9/27/2013 7:54:56 PM
It is really so sad that there is so much pain in the world and one of the largest Chrisitan denominations continues to profess the mantra "Open doors, Open minds, Open hearts." Where is there any evidence of these words in the actions of your Discipline? We are charged to simply love one another. This includes seeing every living person as a child of God. How do you continue to hurt people by denying them the simple privelege of loving without condemnation? I was a 35 year Methodist, complete with my own Emmaus experience and left for the Episcopal church because they actually walk the walk. There is no reason to wonder why you are losing members. The rest of the country full of Methodists are waking up. But not so much down here in the South....yet again. What WOULD Jesus say?
11. Warren Laird wrote on 9/27/2013 8:10:10 PM
I am a fourth generation Methodist, cradle born indeed. I have great respect for our episcopal leadership, both active and retired. I have never criticized or taken issue in a public forum any decision of our Bishop. I feel compelled in this instance not necessarily to criticize, but to question the need for a press release from our episcopal leader on a matter that is rather private in the lives of those affected as a result of a courtesy extended by a fellow bishop. Respectfully Bishop, that wasn't a very good move. It was devisive and totally unnecessary.
12. Harold Hughes wrote on 9/27/2013 8:17:11 PM
Bishop Talbert is to be applauded for officiating over this holy union.The church has behaved badly toward LGBT members, and its words and actions chase away loving, spiritual people. We must change the Book of Discipline and allow the UMC to enter the 21st Century.
13. Reggie Holder wrote on 9/27/2013 8:25:37 PM
Dear Bishop: I urge you to enter into dialogue around this important issue rather than issue press releases. Just a few months ago we read aloud the Letter from the Birmingham Jail and reflected on the lack of action of the church at that crucial time. It seems to me that history is repeating itself. We within our denomination may and can disagree but I believe we are doing everyone a disservice by dissuading faithful conversation. This may very well be standing in our way of making disciples of Jesus and transforming of the world. It is very interesting that the Bishop of Rome recently made this very observation. At a very minimum it deserves a faithful dialogue and civil conversation and I pray that as our Episcopal leader you will initiate this.
14. Trey Champion wrote on 9/27/2013 8:50:39 PM
As a member of the united Methodist church I am heartbroken to see open hatred and discrimination coming from our leadership. So here's what I think...I have spent almost 40 years with scores of people lining up to tell me how depraved and wrong it is to feel what I feel. I know that I love God with all my heart and I know that God loves me. He sent his son Christ to die for me...yes even me. While you may judge me, look down on me, and attempt to deny me basic civil rights you cannot judge what is in my heart and what is solely between me and God because you don't know. As many stones as you cast, I still pray for you that God will open the eyes of your heart and show you love and understanding and that when you ask for mercy and love and peace that God will give so freely to you what you ae denying to so many.
15. Jennifer Sanders wrote on 9/27/2013 9:46:53 PM
The United Methodist Church has been my home and my family, even as it considers my life and my service "incompatible with Christian teaching." I can't help but choke on the words "Please join me in committing to stay focused on the mission of the United Methodist Church to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world." This courageous act by Bishop Talbert IS the transformation of a broken world. I am grateful for his prophetic leadership and witness. It gives me hope for the ultimate redemption of the United Methodist Church, this family that I love.
16. Michele Nailen wrote on 9/27/2013 9:47:34 PM
If our tag line is: Open doors, open minds, open hearts and our mission is to make disciples of Christ then how can we deny anyone?
17. Eleanor Christiansen wrote on 9/27/2013 10:20:16 PM
I grew to know and love God in a Methodist church, camp and college of the North Alabama Conference. I now serve in a church in another conference in the midwest. I disagree with the discipline on this painful issue and thus am disappointed by the Bishop's press release. I know that many faithful Christians come down in different places about how they understand relationships between same sex partners and biblical teaching. However, the thing that saddens me most about this press release is what I perceive as the statement's lack of compassion and care. This is not "an issue." We are talking about people's lives and relationships to God. The least we could do is acknowledge how painful this disagreement is and how Bishop Talbert is also acting in a way that he feels is faithful and compatible with Christian teaching. This is a remarkable moment in which two bishops are struggling to be faithful to God's indicative of our larger church's struggle. Acknowledging the perspective of the other is a gesture of good faith and love that we should extend to all brothers and sisters.
18. Elizabeth O'Donnell wrote on 9/27/2013 10:28:03 PM
There have been many comments here that express my thoughts and feelings, and I do not intend to add to them, but I will say I whole heartily agree with Becky, Reggie, and Bill. I pray that in my lifetime I will see that our denomination has stood up and lived out out vision of inclusiveness. We should practice what we preach and not be afraid of it. We will pull more people in to the Body of Christ by including everyone. May God forgive our denomination if we don't.
19. Lindsay Dawson wrote on 9/27/2013 10:39:07 PM
I applaud the courage of Bishop Talbert. Time and time again this man has stood on the right side of history and I am honored to share a faith with him. I beg the conference to maintain an open dialogue about this issue. It's far too important to just gloss over. Considering that women were once the minority surrounded by extreme prejudice, I would hope that you can support with compassion and justice the evolution of our discipline. "God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them." (I John 4:16)
20. Doreen Duley wrote on 9/27/2013 10:40:42 PM
I am most disappointed by our Bishop 's press release. Another lost opportunity for our church to lead with vision and in love.
21. John Crissman wrote on 9/27/2013 10:45:03 PM
Thank you, Bishop Wallace-Padgett for asking Melvin Talbert to not do this. Thank you for your faith and dedication to uphold the Gospel. Everyone can see that this is just another staged event to send yet another case to the Judicial Council, causing further division prior to the next General Conference. I stand with you and will keep you and the North Alabama Conference in prayer.
22. Mary Elizabeth Neal wrote on 9/28/2013 12:34:12 AM
I have been a United Methodist since birth. I have always been taught that the Church is the place where all people are welcome. Tonight, Bishop, I feel that our Church has upheld a policy of alienation and isolation simply because it is too afraid to live as Christ would have. I am disappointed. Not surprised, but nonetheless disappointed.
23. Paul D. Landers wrote on 9/28/2013 3:12:25 AM
I find it sad that you, a FEMALE in a position once reserved (out of ignorance and fear) only for males, would toe the corporate line on this matter (mustn't upset the shareholders!). I find pathetic the number of gay or lesbian ministers that I have known personally who have served in this conference who still have to (because of ignorance and fear) "hide in plain sight". I find it disgusting that you seriously expect us (in ignorance and fear) to give our time, talent, and our money to the BUSINESS the UMC has become (where, just like Sears/Penneys/Walmart, the most/only pressing item for the local pastor/managers is to get warm bodies in the door and get their cash for Conference apportionments) and then tell us to our faces "You don't qualify for God's grace because I have judged you to be less than I, thank-you-very-much, but just to keep you satisfied we'll form a committee to research the idea of having a study group look into the possibility of considering whether or not we dare risk offending anyone by appointing a panel to assess the feasibility of discussing your concerns at an as-yet unnamed future date". AND YOU CAN'T FIGURE OUT WHY WE'RE LEAVING THE UNITED METHODIST CORPORATION TO SERVE GOD AND BE NURTURED IN OUR FAITH WALK ELSEWHERE?!?!? REALLY????? If I sound indignant, there's a reason. In the forty-nine years since, at age 8, my profession of faith in God and my joining with the Methodist Church, I have watched her shrink further and further away from the activist faith that John Wesley espoused and lived, towards a "We dare not offend anyone!" lukewarmness that brings Revelation 3:15-16 to mind. Sadly, I fear the UMC will look back in shame at this, yet another, lost opportunity to lead in showing God's love by example. Race, migrant workers, female/male parity, immigration reform, human sexuality... each and every time the church has "pulled a Simon" and denied the Creator we profess to serve. I know many, many fellow Methodists who live a loving, caring, non-discriminating faith. Possibly a majority of Methodists do so. I just wish we had more Mary Lib Lowerys, who love without judging; and fewer bishops and clergy who judge without loving.
24. Linda Thacker wrote on 9/28/2013 8:52:25 AM
So as not to be redundant, I echo the comments of Becky Mantooth and Meghan Richardson. I am shaking my head, wondering how you as a woman who has experienced the prejudice against women in the church could take a step backwards. Ditto to Reggie Holder, as well. Are we doomed to repeat the errors of our past? I know of pastors who have had the courage to teach a more progressive understanding of God's love and blessing at the expense of personal suffering. They took a stand against the "old" way of thinking that came about when the church embraced the teaching of Augustine. Surely we have progressed beyond that time and that understanding. Surely we cannot hang on to a teaching that has been proven wrong in so many ways. I am disappointed in the stance you have taken in this press release. If the church had not progressed this far, you, as a woman, would not be able to be in the position where you are now. Please re-examine your position.
25. Carl Carter wrote on 9/28/2013 9:03:24 AM
I am a public relations professional in Birmingham who for several years was Religion Editor for the Birmingham News. Among other things, I covered the National Conference in Indianapolis where the matter of gays in the ministry was debated. I am a member of Riverchase UMC. The structure and wording of the release guarantees that you will come off poorly in media coverage. Trying to insist on having your release used in its entirety without redactions will be unacceptable to any reputable media, and the will either ignore it and use what they want or they will simply decide you are irrelevant to the story. They will likely make you look foolish, high-handed and reactionary by mentioning your attempt to impose such a requirement. You've just stepped into a game for which you don't know the rules. I'm limiting my comments to the communications process itself, and will allow others to engage on the matter itself. However, those who seek to shush others, to tell them what they can't say or where they can't go, are always on the wrong side of history. Carl Carter, APR
26. William Lipp wrote on 9/28/2013 9:20:44 AM
Who gives any clergy or laity the right to practice partiality in Christ's church? limit God's grace? decide who is in and who is out? Jesus said that all power and authority was given to him. The church has one Savior and Lord. Jesus invites all who will to come and follow him. It is Grace that saves not contrived legislation.
27. Sally Fulton wrote on 9/28/2013 9:25:49 AM
Remember when Methodists leaders were blocking African Americans from entering there churches? Without the Bishop Talberts of those days we would still be segregated. Blindly following rules is nothing to be admired.
28. John Mantooth wrote on 9/28/2013 10:29:56 AM
If your book of discipline causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. Seems like a simple choice between love and legalism. Unfortunately, organized religion has a long and crooked history of choosing the law over grace and scripture over people. One of the reasons I switched to Methodism fifteen years ago was because of the narrow minded views of other denominations I'd been a part of. May be time to think about a change again.
29. Brandi Yaghmai wrote on 9/28/2013 2:41:20 PM
I have served on staff at a local church and as leaders it is our role to encourage and inspire. God preaches love not hate. How can we grow and move forward if we keep looking back?
30. dee dowdy wrote on 9/28/2013 8:53:21 PM
Our bishop is living up to the vow she took as a UM Bishop. Would we prefer a bishop took a vow before God and the church and then would toss it aside just to please those who disagree with our church's official stance? Isn't this the same problem we are having in our churches when a person promises to support their church with their prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness and then they only show up once and a while, give little to it and then do not want to serve? I admire her for living up to her word.
31. Kathryn Coltrane wrote on 9/28/2013 9:06:14 PM
Grace and Peace to you Bishop. I am glad to have you here in North Alabama, however, I hope and pray that your vision of making disciples of Jesus Christ and transforming the world would include ALL of God's children. I would also expect us to learn from history: following 'the law' or the "The Discipline" in this case EVEN IF IT IS WRONG - women's right to vote, including women in our church, not allowing blacks to join our churches or our society just a few decades ago- is not visionary. If radical hospitality and inclusion is not taking risks and changing lives, then what is? I urge you to lead our conference to search our hearts and minds to always, always err on the side of grace and inclusion.
32. JM Smith wrote on 9/29/2013 12:06:27 AM
I don't envy the backlash you will be receiving from many who seek to overturn 2,000 years of unanimous Spirit-led response to the topic of same-sex sexual relationships. However, I have a proposal that I believe Bishop Talbert and others commenting above may want to finally consider prayerfully and in seriousness. I shared it at Blessings from the Dojo, JM
33. Charles Williams wrote on 9/29/2013 12:14:55 AM
Why are we confusing a message that God loves us in spite of our sin with a message that we only love those whom we state have no sin? Upholding Gods' Word is not a failure of love - it is an expression of love. Would Christ have welcome and loved homosexuals? Absolutely - just as he did with all of us, each of us with our own temptations and failings. And then he tells us "go and sin no more". Because He loves us. We do not love people by enabling them to engage in spiritually destructive behavior. We do not love people by lying to them in order to avoid offending them. Teachers do not love those who follow them by leading them astray because it is tempting or easy to do so. Thank you, Bishop, for doing your part to see that we are not conformed to the world. Let us continue about the business not of pleasing people, but of pleasing God.
34. Bob Brooke wrote on 9/29/2013 12:53:38 AM
Remember, Jesus never included in His fellowship those who refused to follow the truth of God's Word. And He's still the same today. May God grant us the courage not to give in to the pressures of a lost world and misguided mores of a society living without Christ for the sake of "inclusion."
35. Bishop Inaldo Francisco Barreto wrote on 9/29/2013 8:15:15 AM
Marriage between people of the same sex may be admitted by the State when this is layman. In Iran the state is religious and does not admit because of the state religion. And the Church is governed by spiritual laws derived from the Gospel, so the Church can and have obligation to recuse to do, since it belongs to another order. One thing is the State, the Church is the another subject. And one thing, couldn´t be confused with another.The Church is separated from the state, goes on his way.The Handbook of discipline is nothing more than a substrate of the words of Jesus, and this can not be changed. It is a:" Clause petra", immutable rule clause. God bless Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett.
36. William M. Burch wrote on 9/29/2013 8:45:23 AM
I am a Methodist minister at this time... I feel that this and other denominations are becoming like the Pharisees and placing their rules on level with God's law. I believe we are to love everyone, regardless. But in this case I believe most of the comments posted show the inclination of liberals to impose the will of people upon the church instead of the will of God. Love everybody? Yes, telling them to live in sin is Biblical? No! Referring the Bible as antiquated writings and to move into the 21st century is telling everyone that the unchanging God we worship has not always been right and His teachings need to be updated. I do not seek out homosexuals to tell them they are living in sin, but if they come to me asking, or asking to be married, I must ask them to pray with me as we delve into scriptual teachings not what some biologist says his experiments determine to be the truth. Science is full of theories, by the the commnents here I guess we must except Evolution instead of Creation. Remember we are to promote a change toward God's wisdom, not practice the wisdom of the world!
37. Becky Mantooth wrote on 9/29/2013 10:14:30 AM
I think this thread is proving Reggie's point. Our conference, both laity and leadership, need to be encouraged to discuss this issue openly. It's too important to dismiss. One problem here is that some people see homosexuality as a sin. And others, like me, see homophobia as a sin. That's a huge conflict. Bishop, please encourage your churches to have healthy dialogue and study over this issue. In true Wesleyan fashion, we (the laity and leadership) should study this issue using our tradition, reason, scripture, and experience. There are some excellent resources out there that will help our church start healthy conversations about homosexuality and Christianity. I'd like to see more churches in our conference studying this issue. I know only a few that are. We cannot ignore this issue any longer!
38. Sally Fulton wrote on 9/29/2013 11:07:04 AM
How many divorced and remarried Methodists are among the most vocal against gay Christians? As someone who has been married 43 years, the last person I want marriage advice from is someone with multiple marriages and divorces. I'd much rather hear from a same gender couple with a real commitment.
39. Brenda Attison wrote on 9/29/2013 7:15:38 PM
My husband and I are blessed to be members of the most kind, caring and loving church that we have ever known. I'm sure our church family is just like yours. We are all here to love and serve God. I believe that from Genesis 1:1, every word in the Bible is God's Truth. To me, that means you can't pick and choose what to believe - it's all or nothing. Believe me - we are studying Romans in our Bible Study group - some of it makes me squirm! Every one of us are sinners and fall short of God's glory. It's not up to me to judge you for how you feel and vice-versa. One of the hardest things I have had to do in this world was to not only recognize, but confess my sins before I could repent and ask forgiveness. Every unkind or impure thought, word and deed WAS and IS a sin. It is a daily struggle but Jesus is right there to lean on. How great is that? The point I'd like to make is that a sin is just that - a sin. God told us what is a sin. He's in charge - He made the rules. How can the church be asked to condone sin? Isn't it our responsibility to hold each other accountable with loving kindness? Love the sinner - hate the sin. This world is sick and the Enemy is busy stirring up dissention. I feel that is why it is important for the church to stand strong on Biblical Truths. After all - it's not about us - it's all about HIM! Thank you Bishop for your stand.
40. Kimberly Glass wrote on 9/29/2013 7:27:58 PM
Reggie and Becky have made a significant point. Truthful and open dialog on the issue of gay marriage should be had within the UMC. We run TV ads referring to ourselves as a church of inclusion. Either we include the LBGT community or we pull the ads for false advertising. Let's begin the conversation with this question: How can the intention of two consenting adults to commit to loving and supporting each other be a bad thing? If God is love, why is he not there also?
41. Rev. Karen Booth wrote on 9/29/2013 7:42:01 PM
Though I am not a member of your Annual Conference, Bishop Wallace-Padgett, I would like you to know that I appreciate your integrity. Our episcopacy could use much more of that.
42. Bob Mayer wrote on 9/29/2013 8:07:50 PM
Thank you Bishop Wallace-Padgett for standing up and defending the Biblical truth and our Discipline.
43. Mike Hoppe wrote on 9/29/2013 8:11:37 PM
This will be a historic moment...the very first bishop in Methodist history to be defrocked. It will not be a joyful moment, but one that is much needed. I appreciate the choice of Bishop Wallace-Padgett to stand with the church on this tough issue.
44. Jay Ferguson wrote on 9/29/2013 8:25:29 PM
Bishop, I am sure you did not choose this issue. But you must uphold Scripture and the Discipline. I am praying for your continued integrity in this issue.
45. Rev. Donald Cline wrote on 9/29/2013 8:33:16 PM
Thank you for standing up for Scripture! As a United Methodist pastor I am thankful for a Bishop that is willing to stand up and be counted for God.
46. James Mahoney wrote on 9/29/2013 10:07:52 PM
Thank you for standing for Scripture, Bishop Wallace-Padgett! United Methodists like myself greatly appreciate your stance for Scripture and the orthodox teaching of the church.
47. Rev. Justin White wrote on 9/29/2013 11:24:30 PM
As someone from the Mississippi Annual Conference, I know lots of how this "controversial issue" can seem to tear an "annual conference" apart. i.e., Mississippi AC 2009. However, I feel like those of us in Mississippi, who are seeking and longing for full inclusion of LGBTQ people in the life and ministry of the church were empowered by our controversy. Knowing Joe and Bobby , I know that this is not meant to tear apart anyone or anybody, this is a celebration of their love! This is a celebration of their commitment to each other. I would hope Bishop Wallace-Padgett would not merely issue press releases that toe the UMC-line, but I hope and pray that she meets with Joe and Bobby and gets to know them and their story.
48. Jenny Hardy wrote on 9/29/2013 11:53:17 PM
There are so many great responses above with which I agree and will not repeat. I will echo the comment about this press release being unnecessary. This wedding is not taking place in a Methodist church. Also, for people who continue to think that "the practice of homosexuality as incompatible with Christian teaching", how many times have you studied scripture, sat through a sermon, or read a book and found that when taken into context, the scripture takes on a different meaning? This is not an attempt "of liberals to impose the will of people upon the church". Many people in our conference who support Marriage Equality do so because they have spent time in the Word, researching context and meaning. History has shown that we have used scripture against different groups of people throughout time. I believe this issue is the same. I challenge all to search out the context and meaning behind the scripture used against the LGBTQ community. The Reconciling Ministries website is a great place to start.
49. Kathryn Coltrane wrote on 9/30/2013 12:03:49 AM
Wesleyan tenets: Scripture + Tradition + Reason + Experience! We need all FOUR of these to discern God's Truth The Bible is our Holy Book of Guidance, but it is not our science book! I thank God that we as a church and a society do not use the Bible alone to understand many things that were not understood when the Bible was compiled so many years ago. Things such as gravity, mental or neurological illness (not demons)and a committed marriage for love and companionship, even if it does not include procreation. Adoption and infertility treatment are not in Scripture, yet we certainly see these as a necessary and accepted part of our modern world. If we only look at 'marriage' as it was defined in the Bible (selling your daughter for procreation with her owner/husband) then couples who cannot have children would be shunned. Certainly we have a wider understanding of marriage today! We must uphold reason and experience as well as Scripture and tradition in order to fully embrace God's love for all of us. I too hope to stand up and be counted for God by supporting inclusion in our church.
50. William Prillaman Jr. wrote on 9/30/2013 1:25:41 AM
Thank You for your stand. I will pray for the Lord's continued wisdom in your life. As for those preaching acceptence and that Jesus would have found there behavior acceptable you need to reread the gospels again with an unbiased mind.
51. dee dowdy wrote on 9/30/2013 7:00:40 AM
Wesleyan tenets: Scripture + Tradition + Reason + Experience! --- Scripture--has had lots to say about the issue-so I won't even go there. Tradition--over 2 k years of teaching on the issue. Reason--people of same gender can't reproduce. Thus-the experience part is the only part of the Quaderlateral that could be used in this argument. If I recall correctly, the movement to deconstruct Scripture directly coincides with the time line that the experience argument became more prominent. For many orthodox Christians, this is not about hating or excluding anyone. It is about whether that Scripture means anything anymore. Or should we just toss the Bible and do what we "feel" is right. It is also about the Wesleyan belief in holiness. And it is about wanting to see everyone entering into the kingdom of heaven. But, if we Orthodox Christians are incorrect, then when we meet the Lord, we will have to answer for it.
52. Bob Kuyper wrote on 9/30/2013 10:32:33 AM
I am a United Methodist and appreciate your stand for tradition and the Scripture. For the state, marriage was a way of regulating who could have children. It no longer does that; anyone can have children for better or for worse. Hopefully for the church the ceremony means a lot more. Those who feel that same sex marriage should be practiced in our church should continue trying to change our church law. That would be much better than disrupting the church and making it hard to reach people for Jesus. If they are truly in love, they don't need a ceremony. See a lawyer for any estate issues--that's the province of the church.
53. Linda McCollough wrote on 9/30/2013 11:23:46 AM
All through history when change needed to happen, people had to be the change - I am encouraged by the boldness in leadership by the Bishop to perform a marriage in Alabama, and to all the other pastors that have stepped up to perform and support same-gender marriages. Be the change you want to see in the world, faith-based moving of denominations that want to continue to exist and grow must not become stagnate and sit quietly on the sidelines for things to continue on a destructive path for God's kingdom here on earth! God loves all, as for following the Three Simple Rules, we need to embrace and engage in the opportunity to perform and support same and opposite gender marriages. Press onward!
54. Disney Weaver wrote on 9/30/2013 11:52:07 AM
It is worth noting that Bishop Wallace-Padgett paraphrased and/or synthesized the inconsistent language of the 2012 Book of Discipline pertaining to homosexuality in the press release. Why would a direct quotation not have served her purposes in the press release? Might it be that the language of the 2012 Book of Discipline regarding homosexuality is confusing and/or inconsistent as it has been for the last three quadrennium. Furthermore, the bishop's attempt to restrict any redaction of the press release elevates the irony. If one claims a Scriptural and Tradition argument against same sex marital relations being blessed by the institutional church there are grounds to counter argue "redaction" has played an important role in their primary source documents. I suggest we state accurately in our 2016 Book of Discipline, "Faithful Christians disagree regarding the practice of homosexuality and will remain in prayerful dialogue around sensitive social issues facing the church and society." Then our Bishop can use direct quotes from the 2016 Book of Discipline to convey to the media that The United Methodist Church is honestly discussing the divisive issue of marriage equality. The 2014 Book of Discipline does not define what constitutes a same sex union and/or marriage blessing. Thus, we need more time to study the matter, instead of writing accurate legislation that reflects the diverse nature of our denomination.
55. Kenny Baskins wrote on 9/30/2013 12:34:27 PM
Bishop Wallace-Padgett thank you for your leadership to our Annual Conference. I praise God that you have taken a stand for Scripture authority! The United Methodist Church like God loves all peoples but refuses to let sin rule and ruin lives. For to long the United Methodist Church has debated that Christianity for over 2000 years and the Hebrew faith for thousands more has been wrong! It's time to stop debating and start believing and living the faith we profess. Thank you Bishop Wallace-Padgett for your faithful leadership to the cause of Christ.
56. Rev. Barry Hallman wrote on 9/30/2013 12:36:02 PM
Thank you Bishop for standing firm with the biblical witness, the will of General Conference and the United Methodist Book of Discipline. While many seem content to capitulate to the whims of culture, it is refreshing to have our Episcopal leader to speak with grace and integrity to those who apparently don't realize that what is taking place is a crisis of church governance and biblical authority. If our Book of Discipline has no authority for the bishops of our denomination then one would have to question it's authority over all matters church related. Again, thank you Bishop for your position and for the press release.
57. R.G. Lyons wrote on 9/30/2013 12:52:17 PM
I very much appreciate the conversation on this blog and hope we can have more authentic and faithful conversation on this issue in our churches throughout the conference. Dee, I would agree with you that we must never throw out Scripture. The issue I have is in how Scripture is used. There are only 7 verses that say anything explicitly about same sex relationships, so first of all, we can say it's not a big deal according to the Bible. Secondly, the question for us becomes which verses are we going to make normative for us. No one follows all of Scripture. For example, in Luke 14: 33, Jesus says no one can be his disciple unless he/she give up all their possessions. I don't follow that commandment. My guess is you don't either. So I think it's much harder to just point to any issue and say, "The Bible says." For me, I think it comes down to this great debate throughout Scripture between rule and love. It's played out time and again say between Paul and those who want Gentiles to be circumcised. Between Ezra (get rid of foreign wives) and Ruth, the Moabite, and her incredible love story with Boaz -- an unbiblical marriage (at least according to Ezra and Deuteronomy) that ended up being part of the lineage of Jesus. Dee, I think most of us on both sides of this issue value Scripture highly. We just have different ways of interpreting. I believe when it comes down to exclusion or grace-filled embrace, Jesus always came down on the side of embrace. I would argue that the union of Joe and Bobby is more in line with Scripture than our church's current stance that refuses to honor their love.
58. Matt Jones wrote on 9/30/2013 12:56:45 PM
It seems that many of the people posting comments have not taken the time to actually read this press release. The Bishop is informing us that she, as required by her position, will uphold the law of the UMC, and that she encouraged another Bishop to reconsider his decision to violate the law of the UMC. A decision about whether the law is right (or wrong) and should be changed (or upheld) can only bemade at the General Conference level. Many of you are assuming/assigning her motives and beliefs on this issue. This letter gives no basis for such assumption. Also, saying that she - because she is female member of the clergy - should act/believe in a certain way violates the very premise of non-discrimination.
59. Bob Brewis wrote on 9/30/2013 1:13:44 PM
Thank you Bishop Wallace-Padgett for taking this stand. It is indeed refreshing that our Bishop has made the decision to follow the will of the General Conference, the Book of Discipline, and the Holy Scripture. I am proud of the UMC for maintaining this stance, but am sad that so many who freely use their position with the church have openly defied it. They should be held accountable for their failure to follow the will and desire of the church.
60. Joe Openshaw wrote on 9/30/2013 2:06:06 PM
I didn’t want to weigh in on this thread of comments, and certainly am not going to debate back and forth. But let me say this simply. None of the scriptures that refer to same-sex relationships are referring to same-sex couples in faithful, monogamous relationships. They are all referring to specific acts that are either related to idolatry, temple worship, power or priestly abuse. They all must be read with knowledge of the culture and time they were written. Also, the story in Genesis about Sodom and Gomorrah is not about homosexuality, it was about hospitality. The following paragraph is from a commentary on the role of women, from the United Methodist Church’s web site. “From Methodist beginnings, the Bible has been the chief source for reaching most decisions in our Church. John Wesley gave it first place among the resources to which we should turn in reaching important decisions about Christian belief and practice. But Wesley did NOT (note the emphasis) make it the sole source, nor did he believe the text of Scripture to be the literal Word of God. He believed serious Christians will always read the Bible using the insights of tradition, reason, and experience.” That is what we have done. Through careful study, following Wesley’s example, using scripture, tradition, reason and experience, we have concluded that LGBT persons have sacred worth, just as they are, and that the Bible never intended for faithful LGBT persons to be treated any differently from other people. This follows how Methodists, using the Wesleyan Quadrilateral, changed or developed their views on slavery, segregation, women clergy, Jews, immigrants and more. If you, who are on the other side of this issue, would take the time to study the issue, using, yes, scripture, but also reason (this includes science), experience (including the stories of gay people) and tradition (including the ways the church has progressed on social issues), you would see that clearly, this is an issue that the United Methodist Church needs to address and change. And the inclusiveness that is also written into the Book of Discipline would become a reality. “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors” would gain some credibility.
61. Betty Likis wrote on 9/30/2013 2:44:44 PM
Many good arguments have already been made for supporting Joe and Bobby in their marriage. I will not try to add to them. I will say that there obviously needs to be discussion about this rather than press releases. I am grateful for Bishop Talbert's compassion and courage. As someone said, even the Pope thinks that we need to focus on other issues. The UMC needs to move into the 21st century.
62. Rick Talley wrote on 9/30/2013 3:12:34 PM
Thank you Bishop Padgett for having the courage to take a stand and uphold church law with faith and grace. I am proud you are my Bishop.
63. Mitchell Williams wrote on 9/30/2013 3:51:39 PM
I appreciate many of the candid and heart-felt comments so far. Some are so strident, though (one way or the other) as it makes me wonder if I could discuss this matter with them. Over the years, I've learned more about how people hear our words, whether or not that particular meaning was our intent. Perhaps we all receive a statement based on what we've heard before from other sources. WHAT I ADD is that our Bishop made a vow when she became a Bishop, a vow she intends to keep, a vow perhaps we would hold her to on other matters. Some changes take place with civil disobedience serving as a catalyst for the change. Does that make Bishop Talbert courageous or a vow-breaker? When is it right to humbly be guided by the collective statement of the whole and when should you break away due to your personal vision? Sometimes people have simply left an organization to form a new, "purer" one. Is there another way? A way in which we hold ourselves accountable to one another, accountable to the Lord, and accountable to our neighbors (noting that 'neighbors' in Alabama differ widely on this matter)? Actually knowing and loving people from all sides is crucial. Do we encourage that? Or simply insist that others agree with us first?
64. Rev. Randy Burbank wrote on 9/30/2013 4:37:50 PM
I echo my thanks for our Bishop and her strong stance in this issue. I am convinced and convicted that our stance as a church is deeply rooted in grace while at the same time recognizing that the biblical definition of marriage is within the orthodox and long standing view of the church, of that between a man and a woman. My prayers are first for God's strength and wisdom to guide Bishop Wallace-Padgett as she leads our Conference. My prayers secondly is that the anger and displeasure with our church's stance will be replaced by understanding and peace.
65. Becky Mantooth wrote on 9/30/2013 7:02:34 PM
I love that through this blog we are at least having an electronic "conversation" about inclusivity. I agree with R.G., Mrs. Likis, and Reggie. We need more authentic conversations. If you would like to start a study group in your church, focusing on Christianity and homosexuality, please contact Reconciling Ministry Network at It's a Methodist organization. There are several lay members in this conference trained to lead a CIVIL conversation on the topic. RMN can hook you up with them. Whether you agree or disagree with same-sex marriages, I encourage you to study at your church using the Wesleyan tradition of scripture, experience, tradition, and reason. Finally, I do understand that our bishop vowed to uphold the Book of Discipline. Please note: her press release talks about church law and how it is created. She never talks about her personal beliefs about homosexuality. To say she has a strong stance against homosexuality, might not be correct. Sounds to me like she has a strong stance about upholding the Discipline. She comments that faithful Christians are debating this issue and biblical interpretation. She never says that anti-gay marriage folks are more faithful or love scripture more. To say that I don't uphold scripture because I agree with the marriage of Joe and Bobby, is wrong. I love scripture! I read it and study it prayerfully. I have devoted a good portion of my life to the study of it. I try everyday to live my life for Christ just as so many of you do who disagree with me. I hope we can agree that all of us posting here love God, serve Jesus with our lives, and seek daily to do what is just and right. Let's get together more in our churches and have dialogue in a loving, civil manner. Our common love for God and His people demands it.
66. Rev. Karen Booth wrote on 9/30/2013 7:48:26 PM
Re: Becky Mantooth's encouragement that churches host study groups to consider the issues around homosexuality, if you invite someone only from Reconciling Ministries Network you will have a very lopsided conversation. Other perspectives to consider would be Transforming Congregations (which I lead), the Confessing Movement and Good News. All three of these renewal and reform ministries could supply articulate spokespersons who represent the denomination's position.
67. Becky Mantooth wrote on 9/30/2013 8:02:17 PM
Study the issue. Use the resources you find and wish to use. My main point: Study, prayerfully! I believe if we seek the Truth, it will be reveal to us. It would be great if all these groups met together in our conference for civil and loving dialogue and prayer.
68. Wade Griffith wrote on 9/30/2013 10:31:20 PM
It seems the underlying theological issue is fidelity to God and one's discernment of God's will via scripture and prayer vs. one's fidelity to church law? If a clergy person feels compelled by scripture/prayer (i.e., the leading of the Spirit) to violate church law...think Martin Luther at Wittenberg...should he sacrifice fidelity to God for fidelity to the human-based institution. Would be better off today if ML had submitted to the Bishop of Rome? As we all know, scripture has been used and abused to support any number of atrocities (agains indigenous peoples of central and south america/against Jews/women) and in most cases the church was complicit. Again, how should a pastor respond when he/she discerns God calling them to civil disobedience in the example of MLK Jr. or others who have fought the establishment for basic human rights? Were they in the wrong? Were they in the will of God. Which covenant trumps...the one to the UMC or the one to Jesus as Lord. For me, my high Christology trumps everything. As an "all Jesus--all the time" believer, I believe that He and He alone is the full revelation of God. I believe He even said that if we have seen Him, we have seen the Father. If discipleship can be simplified to following Jesus, how would that lead us on this issue? This is such a tough topic. I know better Christians than me who fall on both sides of the issues. I have had mentors who also fell on both sides. In my opinion, to be Methodist means to honor the faith and discipleship of fellow believers regardless on their stance on this or that social issue. Wesley's radical sermon, "On the Catholic Spirit," et us on a path toward true ecumenism, and I think we can faithfully live that vision out today by hearing, loving and embracing fellow believers on all sides of this divisive topic.
69. Junior Plunkett wrote on 9/30/2013 10:54:09 PM
Bishop, I appreciate and prayerfully support your stand on this issue. You are faithfully upholding, not only the scriptures, but the Discipline of the Church and your duty as Bishop. Perhaps you are here "for such a time as this". I pray that God will give you wisdom, strength and His peace.
70. Dean Bowers wrote on 10/1/2013 8:18:28 AM
I concur with Ted Peterson and Matt Jones about this matter. Our Bishop is keeping her vow to uphold the Book of Discipline which is not to be construed as a personal stance on the issue of homosexuality or even agreement with our current position about this issue as a denomination. She is not waving a banner for or against but instead is doing her job. Regardless of beliefs or motivation, Bishop Talbert is ignoring the boundaries established by our church law as well as territorial rights. If a pastor in another state objected to me performing a wedding in his or her church, I would respect their desires and perform the ceremony elsewhere. Bishop Talbert is disrespecting our Bishop and the College of Bishops should address the matter and hold him accountable for his blatant disregard of his colleague and fellow bishop. If Bishop Talbert wants to make a statement, let him do so in another setting that welcomes his violation of his vows and our church law. In the meantime, a written or public apology from him to our Bishop is in order.
71. Robert Lancaster wrote on 10/1/2013 10:59:31 AM
I agree with the Bishop on this issue. The 2012 Discipline states that the U.M.C. does not condone same sex unions. It is clear that those who are ordained in the church are not to officiate over such services. Bishop Talbot is violating the Discipline and showing total disrespect for our Bishop, the church and those who are faithful to the vow we took at ordination. The council of Bishops must hold him accountable for his actions and his total disregard for the Bishop and the church.
72. Gresh Harbuck wrote on 10/1/2013 11:04:23 AM
First off I want to say I am a sinner saved by grace and I fall short everyday. I do not write this to condem my brothers and sisters but to reveal to them they are being decieved. I have read most of these comments and I have heard many times people say that science says that homesexuals are born that way so somehow this justifies the sin. Well to that I would say, doesn't science also say that some people are born desiring to have sex with children "pedophiles" doesn't science conclude that some are born into addictions. I myself am a child of a family that has had alcoholism and drug addiction in it for three generations. My life was radically changed ten years ago and I am saved by grace through faith and now the very fight I could not defeat on my own I can defeat by Gods grace and power. But I must fight aginst any cravings I must have becasue you see today my desire is not to justify how I feel but my desire is to follow my Jesus. Just becasue I have had these cravings and my flesh may want something does not make it right. I know alot of people in this discussion has said that we are not to judge people and that we are supposed to love everyone. Well church truth is love. and remember every part of scripture is good for teaching and rebuking. I have listened to others say we need to sit down and discuss this and look at what Wesley would do with the quadrilateral. Well Wesley said scripture trumps everything.There is no need to go any furtur if scripture is clear about it. You see I am not really interested in what anyone thinks about this issue or what I think about this issue for that matter . My only desire is to seek my fathers will in this matter. My opinion or other peoples opinion is of no value to me today. I pray that GOd would give his church wisdom. So heres some scripture. I Corinthians 5:9-12 " I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin,or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don't even eat with such people. It isn't my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is our responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning". I Corinthians 6:9-11 " Don't you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don't fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin,or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people-none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God." Before you respond to this please ask yourself do you want to win an arguement or are you trully trying to find the will of God and follow Him. Know that you are not arguing with me I was only quoting scripture.
73. Lori Carden wrote on 10/1/2013 11:17:22 AM
This whole issue pains me. I appreciate that the Bishop is quite simply and yet courageously doing her job. However, the unnamed elephant in the "room" is how are we ultimately going to remain united as Christians in respect and regard for one another and yet agree to go our separate ways as a denomination? At present, I can with conviction work to uphold the Discipline. When it ( any part of it) is changed and I can't follow my convictions I WILL LEAVE. Not leave angry, just leave. So, with that plainly stated. It seems that one side is going to rebel until they overcome our presently stated polity thereby forcing some to go along and get along or leave. The other side keeps pointing to the fact that the Discipline says what it says yet it has to endure the other side's pursuit for what it sees as justice and can't be at rest either. Meanwhile we spend time posting on the Web, trying to disagree without offending one another. I am Methodist because I believe the theology, not just because the Baptist won't take me!! Let's move beyond the obvious and be proactive with mutual respect and lavish grace. Instead of Alabama being known as antiquated and harsh, let's work to lead the whole denomination in a grand Paul and Barnabas endeavor. I don'know how to get a divorce in a denomination but we have friends from other denominations who do. Let's avoid silly disputes over assets, sit with them and figure out how they did it. Call me crazy, naive or radical, but I am just being honest!! This pot is boiling, let's avoid further harm. I sincerely love you all. The day Paul and Barnabas parted ways two ministries were born instead of one conflicted ministry remaining. May all of our hearts find peace.
74. Mark Clifton wrote on 10/1/2013 11:44:51 AM
I am convinced that the intent of Bishop Wallace-Padgett is not one of division nor confrontation. The tone of many responding to the Bishop has been more of a vitriolic nature rather than one of understanding and grace. As I read the Bishop's words related to the matter of Bishop Talbert officiating at the upcoming ceremony later this month I find her words to be filled with integrity for the matter at hand as well as maintaining the integrity of the office of Bishop and The United Methodist Discipline. Our stance as United Methodists is not "anything goes" but one of Scriptural fidelity and openness of heart and mind. We are not a people who disregard law and polity. We live out our polity through lives of grace and acceptance even with those with whom we disagree. I applaud our Bishop in addressing a very divisive issue in such a way that it seeks to bring cohesion rather than division. It would seem that many of us responding have come down on the side of emotion. As a reasonable United Methodist Christian I wonder what might our response be to this issue if we chose not to reason with the closed fist but with the open hand and heart regardless of differing opinions?
75. Chris Blumstein wrote on 10/1/2013 12:31:47 PM
I would also leave if the Discipline is changed to differ from my convictions. Further, the Word of God is clear on the definition of sin.
76. John Alexander wrote on 10/1/2013 12:49:31 PM
Galatians 3:23 Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. 25But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. 27As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 27 As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are ONE in Christ Jesus.
77. Bryan McIntyre wrote on 10/1/2013 12:59:01 PM
THANK YOU BISHOP WALLACE-PADGETT for your courage to stand on what you believe is right. How refreshing it is to see a leader uphold and protect the Scriptures and the Discipline as was vowed at ordination. Thank you that you have made Christ your first love! It is strange how we tend to judge and accuse others of not loving when we want our own way. I believe that you do love and do care for people, and that is why you continue to tell them the truth and love them as God loves them! I believe God cares and loves us all enough to tell us the truth about what is healthy and not healthy in life-- what is right and what is wrong. What God says is not healthy is not healthy, despite what science or anyone else may say. God is truth. The Scriptures say that the day will come when some people will no longer endure sound doctrine and will turn away from the truth. Again, thank you for being a leader!
78. Rev. Mark Mayo wrote on 10/1/2013 3:24:12 PM
Thank you bishop for standing up for Godly and Biblical teachings. We do affirm love toward all people, but we do not accept living in sin. If they like anyone "go and sin no more" they are welcome. We can create all matter of sin with children, animals, and same sex, but that does not mean that God or His church has to accept them while they are living in an abomination before God. I foresee the UMC splitting over this very issue in the near future. My prayer is that the truth of Gods word may be brought to light so that all may see! Praise God you are our Bishop!!!!
79. David Sullivan wrote on 10/1/2013 9:57:56 PM
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. He created man and woman. God is love and he gave man a woman. He designed us and from the beginning He said the two shall become one. He created all the animals, male and female. We all agree on God's Holy Word, the Holy Bible. God said homosexuality is a sin. God called me to be a preacher. To preach his word. Our Holy Bible says a sin is a sin and good is good and evil is evil. God sent his Son, Jesus to this world so that through him the world might be saved. Jesus never changed his Father's words or teachings. Jesus loved the sinners and hated the sin. When people believed in him, He said your sins are forgiven go and sin no more. I had a friend of mine tell me the other day that being a Christian is easy. Do what the Bible says. My Bible tells me not to change or take away from His Holy Bible. This should not even be a issue. May God Bless you Bishop Debra Wallace Padgett
80. The Rev. Holly Boardman wrote on 10/2/2013 10:01:32 AM
Bishop, you have my prayers and my support as you step up to confront this violation of The Book of Discipline. This is more than a simple question of a violation of the Book of Discipline, however. It is clear heresy. A relatively small and loud faction in the church (including Bishop Talbert) is trying to bless sinful behavior--actually rename it as a virtue. As clergywomen, you and I obviously are not fundamental literalists with regard to Biblical interpretation. We also have "a charge to keep", and have been authorized by the church to preach the Word of God. I pray that we may be faithful to God's call.
81. Dr. Billy H. Weems wrote on 10/2/2013 12:28:41 PM
Thank you Bishop. Error is error. To purposely attempt to ignore New Testament teaching is error at best heresy at worst. One of our questions for ordination was; "Do you belive the Old Testament and New Testament[The Bible] are sufficient for salvation?" (paraphrased a little). Every ordained deacon or elder had to anser; "Yes!" For those who desire to justify their actions and wrap around those actions or practices terms of inclusiveness/ love/ compassion, or modernism, or whatever, the Bible is still for us the Word of God revealed. Scripture calls cetain practices (homosexuality for instance, sin. Whether we want to call it that or not makes no difference, it is still sin. Both the Old and new Testaments condemn the practice!I, and every other ordained clergy person in the United Methodist Church vowed to accept the teachings therein, to believe it, preach it, and live by the Holy Bible's words. THANK YOU FOR STANDING UP FOR THE TRUTH, and for, THE UNITED METHODIST BOOK OF DISCIPLINE! God bless you. I know the tension you must face in this. We are to love everyone, but we can never condone open unapologetic sin, even if it is mine!! My prayers aare for and with you.
82. Betty Likis wrote on 10/2/2013 3:26:19 PM
ARE we so very clear about sin? Jesus reminded us that adultery is a sin. He said that anyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery. And he said that anyone who looks at a woman with lust has committed adultery in his heart. What are we going to do with all the church members (not to mention clergy and even district superintendents) who have divorced and remarried? And what do we do with the fact that, as far as we know, Jesus never said anything about homosexuality? Just wondering?
83. Joanna Jones Deuser wrote on 10/3/2013 12:17:21 AM
I LOVE Becky's idea! Why not agree to meet for an open, prayerful conversation. Wonderful idea!
84. Ron Howard wrote on 10/3/2013 10:19:25 AM
It's sad when we have to disregard the words of the Bible to make people fell welcome. God created man and woman to be joined. This has nothing to do with accepting females into a position or different races into our churches. This totally different. I admire our Bishop for standing up for what the Bible stands for.
85. Ann Aycock wrote on 10/3/2013 3:25:51 PM
Thank you Bishop for standing for the Word of God. Of course many will come against you and your stance, but we pray for you to be filled with strength and courage and peace.
86. LT King wrote on 10/3/2013 6:02:04 PM
I am at once delighted that our country is moving to acceptance of the union of any two who love each other, and accepting that the UMC (my home of 39 years) has the right to love those who unite but not permit its clergy to perform the ceremony. To those who wish to demean homosexuals as a group, or to condemn them marrying before a judge, however, see how many adulterers or those prone to lust with whom you share your pew, and consider what the Word says about divorce, and about remarrying after divorce. When we as a people can truly look at ALL people, and remember that they were ALL created in God's image, and remember that Jesus came and died for ALL people, we will have SO much more peace.
87. Suzanne Frazier wrote on 10/4/2013 10:35:38 AM
Thank you, Bishop. Your leadership of our Conference and determination to stand on the Word of God is encouraging in these times of political correctness and pressure to conform to the "norms" of society.
88. Patti Nudo wrote on 10/4/2013 1:43:01 PM
Thank you, Bishop, for standing up for biblical truth even when it isn't the popular thing to do. We are honored to have a brave and Godly woman serving as our Bishop. GOD BLESS YOU!!!
89. Stephanie wright wrote on 10/4/2013 7:23:38 PM
May God bless your courage to follow biblical teaching without compromising. May The Lord continue to guide your steps in godly leadership. You have my support!
90. Elizabeth O'Donnell wrote on 10/5/2013 10:31:49 AM
Just another thought here. We have many LGBT members at our church. They participate fully in the church, including the sacrements. That is, if requested they are baptized and regularly partake in Holy Communion. If we offer the Holy Sacrements to them why is it that we deny them the rite of holy matrimony?
91. Dewayne Guyton wrote on 10/6/2013 4:58:13 PM
I still remain amazed that this is even an issue. Many scriptures refer to this particular sin of homosexuality. It is NOT an accepted practice in God's eyes as no sin is accepted in God's eyes. Would you allow someone who is openly having an extra-marital affair to hold position in the church? Of course not! Would you allow a known drug abuser, drug dealer, rapist, murderer, thief or drunkard hold position in your church? Then why would you allow a homosexual hold a position in your church. This sickens me how blatant sinfulness has become an excepted idea in the church!!!! It is this reason that my family has contemplated leaving the Methodist organization. We are in heavy prayer regarding the idea. I can't fathom representing an organization that will be tolerant of blatant sin. Sadly enough, though the Book of discipline boldly proclaims a stance against this practice, this practice is tolerated and unenforced in many, many churches in the UMC. Saying all of this, I want to add how appreciative I am of our Bishop's willingness to take a stand against this. But more needs to be done. Doing nothing is unacceptable. In my humble opinion, anyone who condones sin in any way should have all license and ordination removed from the UMC.
92. Tony Dwiggins wrote on 10/7/2013 8:16:33 AM
This crippling issue is now being openly presented in the geographic strength center of the UMC. If this issue openly divides the church here, not only will the membership decline escalate, but the financial impact will be devastating. The pro-gay agenda forces mistakenly assume that an open dialogue will enlighten the masses and a transformation will occur to their benefit. No, instead of engaging in a conversation on this, people will just leave, and the church will be gutted. The good Bishop knows this and is simply trying to get out ahead of this. However, she cannot do this alone. It is time for all good Bishops who want to save the church to come to her side and stand in solidarity with her. Going into hiding is not an option. It is time for the membership of the UMC to see their leaders rally around her and vow to defend the vows under which they were ordained.
93. Kathy Jackson wrote on 10/7/2013 1:55:31 PM
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Bishop for standing firm on God's word. It is clearly written in the scriptures and it doesn't matter how many times it is in the bible; if it is in there "one" time, then it is so.
94. Matt Jones wrote on 10/7/2013 3:45:33 PM
It is shocking to me to see how many people are projecting a "position" on the issue of same-sex marriage onto our Bishop. The only official "position" she has taken is to keep her vow to uphold the BOD on this matter, and to encourage another retired Bishop to do likewise. That is a position that worthy of the affirmation and prayers that many of you have extended...but I suspect that many of these prayers are conditional. I hope that each of you will be in active prayer for all who attend the "conversation" and all who lead our Conference...regardless of their views on same-sex marriage.
95. David Ward wrote on 10/7/2013 8:56:02 PM
Elizabeth, what would be the scriptural basis, chapter and verse, on which you would rely in order for the church to allow the rite of matrimony?
96. Tommy Thomas wrote on 10/8/2013 8:31:46 PM
Bishop Debra......Stand your ground! It was never Suppose to be "Tim & Jim !! God condemns this lifestyle In His word. Be obedient to Gods' word and condemn The lifestyle Love the people and hate the sin. Tommy Thomas, B.Th
97. Ben Vernon wrote on 10/15/2013 3:19:53 AM
Every single scripture on homosexuality states that God stands against it. There is not one scripture where God gives His approval to such relationships. In all cases God is clear in His position. Supporting that which God opposes puts one in direct opposition with God and in harmony with the worlds standards over God's moral standards. Yes, we are to love. But we are also to honor God's Word on specific issues. Those who support such same sex relationships deny God's Word on the matter. Grace does not mean permissiveness in defiance of God's Holy standard. To approve of same sex relationships, in the face of clear scripture against them, is to disapprove of God's Word. Thank you Bishop Debra for your godly stance in upholding God's morals over those here who prefer the world's morality.
98. Marlow Openshaw wrote on 10/21/2013 1:34:27 PM
I believe It is a shame that not everyone is viewed as equal here on earth. Whether we be black, white, woman, man, gay, straight we are all viewed as equals by God. I do not believe that God would make people just to shun them or turn them away. Maybe the God I believe in is a kinder and more accepting God than yours and I am ok with that. I know I am not the best person to be preaching to anyone. I have definitely walked a rocky path in my relationship with God and that in large part is due to the closed mindedness of people like you. My dad who is one the best men I have ever known was turned away from the Methodist church when he was finally the man God made him to be. That in the eyes of an eight year old little girl has a huge impact on her relationship with a church and it's clergy. I stopped attending church after that, if he wasn't wanted there, I didn't want to be there either. Since then my relationship with God has been a private and personal one. I know that he loves me and my family. Why you can't accept that I guess I will never understand. The world is an ever evolving place, people are changing, times are changing. The younger generations do not think like you. The generation I stand with is one of acceptance and tolerance. You may notice a lack in attendance with your younger generations, did you ever think that it could be because of your non acceptance policy? The Book of Discipline speaks of the inclusion and civil rights for everyone including homosexuals. It seems that you need to learn to follow these principles better. Marriage is a huge commitment for anyone. My father and his partner Bobby have a better relationship than most straight couples. They have certainly been together longer than most marriages that I know of, mainly because their relationship is one of love, respect and commitment. They are two of the kindest, hard working and generous men you should ever have the pleasure to meet. Why would you ever want to stop them from getting married? All they ask is to be treated as equals in your church and have their relationship be blessed by god, surrounded by the people they love and that love them the most. Is that so much to ask? I am so thankful I was raised by this man, he stands up for what he believes and taught me to do the same.
99. Vicky Vincent Hughes wrote on 10/24/2013 9:23:14 PM
I encourage our bishop to make a positive stance for Christianity and the UMC. Be accepting of all persons.