Raleigh, North Carolina
I am a United Methodist pastor who, in 1988, discovered the pain and suffering my denomination was causing members of my church because they were gay and lesbian. This discovery started a journey that has let me to openly challenge the United Methodist Church, along with conventional Christian teaching, in regard to its persecution of lesbian and gay persons.
It has also led me to defy the rules and policies of the United Methodist Church that contribute to this persecution, placing me in jeopardy of losing my orders. I was acquitted in a church trial in Nebraska in 1998 for celebrating a covenant ceremony for two women, and face a second trial in November of this year for celebrating the holy union of two men this past April.
Why am I coming to Lynchburg? I believe the greatest injury done to lesbian and gay persons is caused by spiritual violence. Spiritual violence is assault upon the integrity and dignity of a person when that person is told that, because of who she or he is, she or he is not loved and accepted by God, and is in fact rejected and condemned by God. Damning, judgmental words cause massive and deep wounds that are hard to heal. I believe the spiritual violence must stop. I am coming to Lynchburg with the hope that it can be stopped.