Editor’s Corner, Dec. 6, 2013

Amy ForbusBy Amy Forbus

October and November of 2013 brought some significant controversial events in the life of the United Methodist Church.

First, on Oct. 26, retired Bishop Melvin Talbert officiated at a same-sex union. Following his action, the Council of Bishops on Nov. 15 issued a statement respectfully requesting that a formal complaint be filed against Bishop Talbert for undermining the ministry of a colleague (Paragraph 2702.1f of the 2012 Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church) and conducting a ceremony to celebrate the marriage of a same gender couple (Paragraph 2702.1b).

The second event was the church trial of Pennsylvania pastor the Rev. Frank Schaefer, who on Nov. 18 was found guilty of violating church law by performing the same-sex marriage ceremony of his son Tim in 2007. Schaefer is currently serving a 30-day suspension and will likely surrender his clergy credentials at the end of that period.

Seeing our connection experience pain in very public ways can prove difficult. I’ve read stories and commentaries from a variety of perspectives, on both church-focused and secular news websites. Having spent my career in church communications, I’ve learned that in complicated situations like these, writers who are most familiar with the United Methodist Church do the best job of relating the facts. If you’re seeking information on either of these matters, I recommend that you begin with two sites operated by United Methodist News Service: www.umcconnections.org and www.umns.umc.org.

Readers will note that these sites hold a vast array of reporting on the work of the church, which continues despite any controversy. Even as we wrestle with tough issues, let’s remember that Christ’s command to fulfill our disciple-making, world-transforming mission doesn’t change.

To reach me, send an email to aforbus@arumc.org.