Soulforce Letter to Bishop Galvan and Bishop William Boyd Grove

Dear Bishop Elias Galvan, Resident Bishop

Bishop William Boyd Grove, President of the Trial Court

The Jury Pool and Trial Participants

We plead with you, spiritual leaders of the United Methodist Church, to stop the trial of the Rev. Karen Dammann, for it cannot go forward without your cooperation. Should you go forward, we, together with Soulforce volunteers, will be compelled to conduct an act of nonviolent civil disobedience. The church law under which Karen is charged is an unjust assault on the equality, humanity and sacred worth of Karen and all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons. Her crime or "chargeable offense" is nothing other than her honest declaration that she has formed a family with a partner deemed by the church to be of the "wrong" gender. On trial with her are millions of lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender persons who live in relationships of covenantal faithfulness, build homes, raise children and contribute to their churches and communities.

Do not desecrate with injustice and discrimination a United Methodist sanctuary–a place of refuge, of worship, of "open doors, open hearts and open minds" (to quote a United Methodist Church advertising campaign). This is not God’s law of love and truth, but the law of United Methodist General Conferences which have repeatedly embraced ignorance and rejected the truth declared by the majority of their own Committee to Study Homosexuality. That committee’s majority reported to General Conference a dozen years ago that "The present state of knowledge and insight in the biblical, theological, ethical, biological psychological, and sociological fields does not provide a satisfactory basis upon which the church can responsibly maintain the condemnation of all homosexual practice."

Twelve years after your own Study Committee report, and only months after the United States Supreme Court has recognized the human dignity and equality of homosexual persons and corrected its own past errors, the United Methodist Church chooses to persist in error and ignorance. But truth is also persistent and will prevail even in the face of unjust judges and discriminatory lawmakers. Jesus taught us this truth force or soul force in sermons and parables, in sacrifice and new life. M. K. Gandhi, a Hindu, and M. L. King, a Baptist, developed teachings like those of Jesus into the practice of soul force in order to liberate the oppressed. We stand in this tradition.

Our tradition requires us to reject the violence of "tongue, heart or fist." We will speak the truth in love. If necessary, we will conduct an act on nonviolent civil disobedience in our struggle to seek with you the truth. We will take on ourselves the consequences of United Methodist injustice as a work of redemptive suffering in order to redeem and liberate ourselves, the members and officers of the Trial Court, the United Methodist Church and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons from bondage to ignorance and falsehood.

Bishop Grove and Bishop Galvan, members and participants of the Trial Court, Gandhi taught that "It is as much my moral obligation no to cooperate with evil as it is to cooperate with good." Please join us with your refusal to cooperate this unjust law.

Seeking with you the Spirit of Truth, we are

The Rev. Marylee Fithian and Steven E. Webster

Co-chairs, The United Methodist Team of Soulforce

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