An Open Letter of Joy and Lamentation to Bishop Gregory V. Palmer
on the treatment of David Meredith and Jim Schlachter
Dear Bishop Palmer:
On Tuesday we learned that the Committee on Investigation of the West Ohio Conference dismissed two of the three charges against Rev. David Meredith for marrying Jim Schlachter, his partner of 28 years, in a United Methodist sanctuary. We rejoice that the committee on investigation was able to discern a new way forward that included dismissing two of the charges against Rev. Meredith. Thank you for helping find that path. How good it is when God gives us wisdom and insight to see a new way where once we saw no way! We lament that the remaining charge strikes to the very heart of the harm the policies of The UMC causes to the loves and lives of LGBTQIA+ United Methodists. Those who cling to our denomination’s discriminatory policies and call the sacred and loving covenant between David and Jim disobedience to the church deny the holiness and abundant love of their covenant. We proclaim that God rejoices in Jim and David’s love and covenant, as do we. We affirm that what God has called holy, no human can condemn.
We stand in solidarity with David and Jim, as well as all others who have sought to have their love celebrated in the church they love only to be told the rules were more important. David is the one who faces the potential of a church trial right now, but each of us who claims our rightful place in the church feels the weight of these charges. Every one of us in this caucus is daily in defiance of the Discipline, because parts of the book were constructed to declare our very lives invalid expressions of faith in Christ.
To call ourselves compatible with God’s broadly inclusive love is an act of defiance in the United Methodist Church. We know we are more than compatible. We are beautiful expressions of the love that abounds when faithful children of God live as disciples of Jesus Christ. We are not the problem. The discriminatory language that is used to exclude us from full participation in the life of the church is the problem. We cannot help but defy language that invalidates our place in the church that miraculously taught us how to love even as it sometimes treated us as unworthy of love.
While we believe that there should never be trials related to weddings of same gender couples, it is especially problematic that trials are being pushed during the period while we await the outcomes of the Commission on a Way Forward with bated breath. No good will come from a trial. Every time there is a church trial related to sexual orientation or gender identity, the whole denomination looks bad in the public gaze. United Methodists should be making the news for the ways we make the kin(g)dom of God known in the world, not for attacks on the validity of ministries ordained by God’s Holy Spirit. We call on you and all who have influence and power in the process to find a “just resolution” before this matter escalates to a trial.
In Christ’s all powerful love,
The United Methodist Queer Clergy Caucus