March 31, 2003
In the past year, the congregation of Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church (Cincinnati, Ohio), and their pastor, the Reverend Stephen Van Kuiken, have struggled with the Presbyterian Church (USA). On April 8, 2003, the Reverend Van Kuiken will appear in church court to face charges that he violated church law by marrying same sex couples and ordaining practicing gays and lesbians into congregational leadership positions.
As members of a local interfaith clergy association, we have come to know and respect the Reverend Van Kuiken for his intellectual honesty, and deeply held religious convictions. We commend his personal and professional integrity in a time of challenging denominational conflict. We affirm his vision that all people, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of their religious communities.
The role of contemporary clergy is a complex and unique calling. It requires respect for tradition, as well as a vision for the future. One of the clergy’s great responsibilities is to recognize when a vision of a more just and equitable future out weighs traditions of the past. Clergy may be called to take prophetic, controversial positions. As in the Reverend Van Kuiken’s case, this is an act of faith, personal conscience, courage, and extraordinary risk. Change comes when there are those strong enough of mind, heart, and soul to challenge problems.
Thus it is with great respect and admiration that we, the Reverend Van Kuiken’s colleagues, offer him our support and prayers.
Rabbi Robert B. Barr
Reverend Sharon K. Dittmar
Reverend Doris G. Hoskins
Reverend Bonnie Meyer
Reverend Jerry L. Murphy