The Trial of Rev. Stephen Van Kuiken of Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church
On April 8, 2003, Rev. Stephen Van Kuiken, minister of Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church, will go on trial in the Cincinnati Presbytery. Basically, charges were filed by the investigating committee against him for not discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation in ordination or gender in marriage.
In keeping with our mission and commitment to end spiritual violence committed by church policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, we are calling all Soulforce veterans to join us in Cincinnati April 8 and 9 to give support to Rev. Van Kuiken and members of his congregations. The trial begins at 6pm on Tuesday, April 8. The duration of the trial is unknown, but expected to be completed by Wednesday afternoon.
Soulforce will hold a nonviolence training on the evening of Monday, April 7 for those who will be joining us for the first time. Soulforce veterans are welcome to take part in the training, or meet on Tuesday, April 8, the day of the trial, at 1pm for squad assignments, socializing, and spiritual renewal.
No civil disobedience or arrests are being planned at this time.
Additional details, such as location of the trainings and fellowship, as well as local hotel accommodations, will be available in the very near future. We wanted to let you know of this decision as soon as possible.
Soulforce issued a letter of support for Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church last year regarding the church’s "Statement of Dissent and Non-Compliance" with church policies on ordination and a "Statement on Inclusive Marriage," which was written in 2001.
In the Presbyterian Church (USA), lay people can be ordained as elders and deacons as long as they are not in a same-gender relationship, and ministers can perform same-sex marriages as long as it is not called "marriage." Rev. Van Kuiken has stood up against these unjust laws, and ordained people and married people without taking sexual orientation or gender into consideration.
An anti-gay member of the PCUSA has filed over twenty complaints against Presbyterians for these reasons all over the country. These are the first complaints to result in a trial.
Soulforce commends Rev. Van Kuiken for taking this stand and for his courage and commitment to challenging these unjust laws. We hope you will consider joining Soulforce in Cincinnati in support of Rev. Van Kuiken.
ANOTHER WAY OF SUPPORTING REV. VAN KUIKEN
As part of his defense he plans to introduce some written statements to the record. Letters should be supportive and explain and how policies marriage of same sex couples, ordination regardless of sexuality, and open communion, etc.. have helped you live out a Christian faith. Although, the policies of Mt. Auburn may not have directly impacted your personal life, you may choose to state how the environment that policies like this create impacts us all. Letters can be brief or long. But please write one. Please send them with your signature to Jennifer McKettrick, c/o Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church, 103 William Howard Taft Road, Cincinnati, OH 45219 or McKettrick@cinci.rr.com. Letters are due by March 16th.
ABOUT THE RAPID RESPONSE TEAM
The concept of the Rapid Response Team is to identify a core group of Soulforce veterans who are interested in participating in a Soulforce action for issues that come up outside our regular planned actions. Little advance notice, home stays (hotels will also be available) and following Spirit’s guidance are likely components of this work.
This will be the first time the Soulforce Rapid Response Team has leaped into action to bring attention to injustice and lend support to those who are being condemned for seeking justice for GLBT people in the churches. If you have questions about Rapid Response, contact Bill@soulforce.org.
We look forward to seeing you in Cincinnati.
Karen Weldon, Director of Operations
Laura Montgomery Rutt, Director of Communications
Bill Carpenter, Rapid Response Team Coordinator
March 10, 2003
Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church – http://www.mtauburnpresby.org/index.html