A Post-Mortem on GC 2012 by Robert Hoshibata
Robert Hoshibata is Bishop of the Portland Area of The United Methodist Church and presides over the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.
 

This is my post mortem for General Conference 2012. I had to take a week to let everything settle in my soul. Kind of like a mourning period, I guess. There are many thoughts swirling in my head and heart. I may write several blog entries. But for now, here’s my thinking:

Some have asked me about my decision to leave the stage where the bishops were sitting on Friday, May 4, to walk among those who were gathered on the floor of General Conference. In the midst of heated debate about human sexuality, specifically about language in the Discipline about homosexuality, a question was raised from the floor asking for a delineation of the “bar.” Those within the curtained area were to be voting delegates only. Those outside the curtains were non-voting. People without vote who were passionately concerned about the discussion and vote were gathering outside the curtained area. I could not remain seated in the section on the stage reserved for bishops. I felt God tugging at me to leave the stage and join the many non-voting persons who were demonstrating silently their distress at the continual efforts to disenfranchise the GLBT community. I decided that since I was not a voting member of General Conference, and because I needed to witness to what I believe, I belonged with those persons.
During the debate, I felt a need to simply walk among those who were outside the bar. I wanted to be a silent witness to the fact that God loves all persons. That is what my United Methodist heritage taught me to believe. I wanted to demonstrate that there are bishops of our United Methodist Church who support the efforts of the Church to include ALL persons, EVERYONE, and that those who consistently legislate the exclusion of the LGBT community from church participation, church membership, church leadership, church blessings of committed relationships and marriage, are causing harm and that we must change our “official” statements to reflect our insistence on grace over judgment; love over fear; Jesus over Leviticus.
Bishop Hoshibata stands in silent witness at the bar of General ConferenceSo I walked back and forth around the floor of General Conference. I walked outside the bar. I nodded to some who looked at me. I wanted to silently convey: You are not alone; God loves you, even if the Church does not, God loves you; you are not alone! Some people smiled, others just looked at me. Some nodded acknowledgment of my presence; while I felt the stares of many who were in the stands. I wonder what went through their minds!
I am saddened by the way we who call ourselves United Methodist Christian are not Christian in the way we relate to each other when we have disagreements. I was disheartened by the way our conversations devolved into statements that pitted one interpretation of Scripture against another. It was disturbing to hear words describing another human in degrading terms. I appreciated the sensitivity of the interpreter who offered words of apology before publicly interpreting the crude, unkind words of an African delegate. Somehow, we need to break through the huge chasm of ignorance and mistrust that separates the cultures and the people of the global community. General Conference is not the venue for meaningful conversations that need to take place between people of the US church and the African church in order to get to that place where we can truly be engaged in holy conferencing.
From the first attempts to have conversations about sexual orientation in “small” groups to the legislative committee conversations, and certainly in our plenary time, the effort to achieve unity in a body as diverse and as politically motivated was doomed to failure.
OSilent Witness at the edge of general conference. Greg Nelson Photonce again, the conservatives who control the votes of the General Conference were enabled in their efforts to block any kind of conversation and fair voting that might possibly create a “crack” in the wall of homophobia that grips our denomination. Political maneuvering that was clearly unethical was observed by others and (hopefully) reported. Those who were “sent to hold the line” in their resolve to declare homosexuality “incompatible with Christian teaching” demonstrated their inability to incorporate the value of “reason” in their thinking and voting. How else can you possibly explain the General Conference’s stubborn insistence to reject all wording that declares that we are unable to reach consensus on the issue of homosexuality! In the US church, this stubborn insistence is based on fear of change, fear of reality, fear of reason.
It is obvious: we are clearly NOT in consensus. I believe The United Methodist Church will continue to experience decline in numbers of young persons because we cannot admit our differences and thus we are unable to focus on a vision for ourselves that is in mission to the persons who need to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. We are stuck on debate and indecision about homosexuality while people around us are hungry, homeless, unemployed, in economic distress, and battered and bruised. What a sorry excuse for a church we are!
So I take comfort in returning to Oregon-Idaho and the Western Jurisdiction. Although I know well that even in our corner of the denomination we are not of one mind, I rejoice that in our Annual Conference at least, we are for the most part tolerant of others, kind and respectful in our disagreements, and willing to focus on mission and ministry instead of being embroiled aimlessly entangled in questions of human sexuality and trying to decide for God who is or is not surrounded by God’s grace. God has already decided that, and unless I am missing something, God is calling us to love all persons, EVERYONE! I sense that our congregations and pastors are more willing to preach about God’s call to ministry to the hungry and homeless and to care for the spiritual needs of all persons.
The debate in the general church will rage on. My thoughts are shared with you because I want to let you know where my heart and soul lie. I am open to your thoughts and reactions to these words, or to General Conference or to our United Methodist Church’s struggle to be a place for all God’s children, EVERYONE! Amen!

 

By: Bob Hoshibata On 5/14/2012

Comments

1. Bob wrote on 5/14/2012 12:00:00 AM
Hmm..he is bishop of a very liberal open conference and they have decreased at a larger rate...hmm..what does that say about how bring "more open" will help the Methodist church.
 
2. Doreen Webb wrote on 5/14/2012 12:00:00 AM
Thank you. As a mother of someone who is apart of the GLBT community it breaks my heart to hear people who we are looking toward for spiritual guidance say she is not worthy of God's love. It is these people who have turned a deeply spiritual daughter away from God and left her lost. I am grateful that I am a member of a conference with a Bishop who does believe God loves us all. Thank you again.
 
3. Rev. David Weekley wrote on 5/14/2012 12:00:00 AM
Thank-you, Bishop Hoshibata for your words, and your personal witness at General Conference. It was so comforting to see you walking and standing with us during many difficult times. While this truly is a sad time for our church, your witness stands as a symbol of hope. I meet so many people who have given up on The United Methodist Church.It is voices like yours that helps many of us to remain.
 
4. Richard Kauffman wrote on 5/14/2012 12:00:00 AM
I am profoundly grateful to God our Father and to Jesus Christ, our beloved Savior for a servant such as you, Bishop Bob! I can only pray that others in our beloved denomination will have such a blinding Pauline revelation and share your vision with the world. God bless you!
 
5. Jeffrey Kuan wrote on 5/14/2012 1:52:24 PM
Thank you for your witness, Bishop Hoshibata! It was a painful experience at GC when 44% of the delegates voted against the language that "nothing can separate us from the love of God" clearly for political reasons.
 
6. Laura Beville wrote on 5/14/2012 1:55:06 PM
Bishop - thank you for this statement. I caution you to not forget your own words from your sermon at GC: "Imagine a church for all God’s children, intentionally opening it hearts, minds, and doors to everyone. Where disciples of Jesus Christ proclaim and practice acceptance of all others without regard for who they are, or what they look like, or who they love. That’s a church healed of fear and mistrust." In the midst of pain and sorrow, I know that church exists!
 
7. Brooke Collison wrote on 5/14/2012 2:01:28 PM
Bishop, Thanks for your words. And thank you for including the phrase in your episcopal address about thte church needing to accept all--"regardless of who they love" (excuse my not having the exact words). A sad note: one leg of the quadrilateral is "reason." Delegates should come to CG "informed but not instructed." The inability to demonstrate reason separates them from one of our major constructs. Keep working!
 
8. Dave Bean wrote on 5/14/2012 2:02:00 PM
Thank you for sharing your thoughts but even moreso for sharing your witness at GC through the preached word and through your physical presence. I believe that you chose well in being with those whose silent witness expressed the truth that we are not of one mind on the issues of human sexuality. I believe that you took your place where Jesus seemed to regularly take his place. I share your thankfulness that the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference lives together in a more tolerant space. Like many others whom I've heard comment in the aftermath of GC, I do wonder where we go from here. May God's abiding grace guide us through this time of desert wandering; may we give thanks for our Bishop's faithful leadership and witness; may we continue to support each other in reflecting God's love to all.
 
9. Wendy Woodworth wrote on 5/14/2012 2:28:26 PM
I deeply appreciate your reflection and witness at General Conference. In my reflection on the actions of General Conference was to remind the congregation that I serve that irregardless of the votes taken at GC, that at Fremont UMC we will continue to live our our mission statement to "embrace diversity and come together in the unity of the Spirit to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God." Blessings on your ministry.
 
10. Amanda Wooldridge wrote on 5/14/2012 2:31:31 PM
Thank you, Bishop! I hope our denomination survives this time.
 
11. Mary Foote wrote on 5/14/2012 2:34:03 PM
Thank-you, Bishop. God bless you!
 
12. Scott Jensen wrote on 5/14/2012 2:51:46 PM
Your constant pastoral presence is so important to us as we walk out of the wilderness. I was not there in Tampa but I was there in spirit and watched video and twitter feeds. Your presence was known to many. And the Grace you've shared with us. We claim this faith and the Kingdom is near....
 
13. Jeanne Roe Smith wrote on 5/14/2012 2:57:27 PM
thank you Bishop, for your words of wisdom, your witness to Love, and your continued courage to name the ills that are harming our UMC. I can share this reflection with my students with integrity and knowledge that leadership such as yours is possible and active within our deeply divided church. My souls stirs a bit more freely and with less ache- thank you for the blessing of hope and possibility.
 
14. Scott Campbell wrote on 5/14/2012 2:58:18 PM
Many of us are grateful to you, Bishop, for breaking the silence among our active bishops in addressing head on the sin in our church. I do take some consolation in recognizing that support among US delegates for the Hamilton/Slaughter statement was considerable, assuming that most Central Conference delegates voted against it. A conservative estimate would put the numbers at 60-40 in favor. The margin was probably even larger. Perhaps doors are opening.
 
15. Wes & Rose Yamaka wrote on 5/14/2012 3:06:21 PM
We've known you for a number of years and we have never known you to back off of making soul-ful, sometimes radical decisions on many important issues. You did it again and we are grateful. Your witness signals to all that all Bishops are not wed to traditions that don't make sense. Thank you!
 
16. Robert Dodd wrote on 5/14/2012 3:20:37 PM
Thank you for your witness to the love of God, symbolic and otherwise.
 
17. Melinda O'Brien wrote on 5/14/2012 3:32:56 PM
Thank you, Bishop!
 
18. Becca Clark wrote on 5/14/2012 3:33:43 PM
Bishop Hoshibata, I can't adequately thank you for your pastoral presence throughout GC. You facilitated the organization of my legislative committee (Church and Society B) with hope and compassion when we could have begun drawing our hard political lines. You spoke prophetic words of inclusion. You left your chair and walked among the broken. You hugged me at one point. So thank you. That's the best I've got.
 
19. Deborah Maria wrote on 5/14/2012 3:39:44 PM
Thank you, Bishop H, for stepping out with the people within the bar and those of us witnessing silently outside the bar. I was grateful to return to Oregon(-Idaho) May 5. I haven't cried for about three days. Now I'm crying again.
 
20. Dr. Charles Alkula wrote on 5/14/2012 3:53:30 PM
The Lord bless you and the people among whom you minister.
 
21. Carol Brown wrote on 5/14/2012 3:57:20 PM
Blessings on you, your witness and leadership! You shine the Light brightly!
 
22. Josh wrote on 5/14/2012 3:59:55 PM
The question is not love, but leadership. We are called to love all people, but not to appoint them to positions of leadership. This is not a levitical issue but one addressed by Paul and Jude as well. Just read the book of Jude and tell me if it vindicates or covicts your position.
 
23. Joy Watts wrote on 5/14/2012 4:09:01 PM
Thank you, Bishop Hoshibata! Your leadership makes a difference. As the parent of a wonderful gay child and friend of many GLBT people, my heart aches at the harm our church does to them and the gifts and graces we lose. We need Bishops to step forward. We really regret the harassment you may receive because of the love you preach. Blessings and gratitude!
 
24. Gin wrote on 5/14/2012 4:20:45 PM
As part of the LGBT community - Thank you Bishop Bob.
 
25. Melanie Stanley-Soulen wrote on 5/14/2012 4:22:56 PM
Thank you, Bishop for your prophetic stance. I am praying for you and the other Bishops and leaders of our denomination who understand, believe and are inspired to bring full inclusion to our divided church. Josh, proof texting, even the NT, does not change who God is and who God wants us to be.
 
26. Rev. Kenneth Moody-Arndt wrote on 5/14/2012 4:36:58 PM
I agree with you whole-heartedly, Bishop; these are the thoughts I was having in the aftermath of GC 2012. I agree that we will not halt the decline in numbers, no matter how many technically clever Five Year Plans we come up with, until we come to terms with the radical, all-inclusive nature of God's love as embodied in Jesus Christ.
 
27. Lucinda wrote on 5/14/2012 4:45:41 PM
I too thank you for your stand. Much was shared about GC at church yesterday and it impacted me at a visceral level. Hearing that the negativity was even greater than I had preciously thought was like a blow to my center. As a gay believer, this is all much too hurtful. It is way past time to take a stand that says "no more". We can't just continue to swallow, or to allow, this kind of pain.
 
28. Wesley wrote on 5/14/2012 4:59:18 PM
Thank you, Bishop, for standing on the side of love and humanity.
 
29. Rev. Chris McArdle wrote on 5/14/2012 5:05:39 PM
I am an ordained pastor within the UCC and have been watching our Methodist sisters and brothers closely about this issue. I join you in praying for the day when the UMC will affirm that God's grace is boundless, that God's love is withheld from no one, and that God meets us where we are. Thank you for your support for the LBGT community, Bishop.
 
30. Nina Yardley wrote on 5/14/2012 5:09:51 PM
Thank you, Bishop. I was so disheartened at the squabbling and the sad news that votes I considered important, went against what I believe Jesus taught. Your voice and Bishop Carcano's statements are all that holds me to a denomination which to me seems bent on self-destruction.
 
31. Denise McGuiness wrote on 5/14/2012 5:10:25 PM
Thank you, Bishop. The church needs more Godly witnesses. It is a sad time for our church and I agree that it is the hypocrisy of saying we are Christians while not following what Jesus would do that is driving our youth/young adult away from Christianity all together. It is true for my own sons and it grieves my heart.
 
32. Robin Andress wrote on 5/14/2012 5:34:39 PM
I agree with your assessment. I cannot see why younger people, lay and clergy, would see the UMC as progressive church for the future.
 
33. Linda Richard wrote on 5/14/2012 5:36:13 PM
Bishop- What a refreshing soul soothing experience to read your kind words. Not only on issues of human sexuality but on numerous other issues I felt the General Conference focusing on straining out the gnats, while swallowing the camels! Instead of uniting to proclaim a gospel which is full of God's love and life changing power; we battened down the hatches and retreated in preparation for defeat and decline. And so we regroup at home wondering where to go and how to follow Christ in the near future. Thanks for your faithful leadership. Although I am now a clergy member of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference- Oregon-Idaho is my home conference and Hagerman is my home church. Blessings and thank you for your faithful witness!
 
34. Curt Naeve wrote on 5/14/2012 5:49:15 PM
Thank you Bishop for your clear and concise witness, the silence has been deafening and I appreciate the integrity of your position and the boldness of your statements.
 
35. Catherine Davis wrote on 5/14/2012 5:53:42 PM
Thank you Bishop. I am so proud to be serving under you in Oregon. Thank you for welcoming me into the Oregon-Idaho family from North Carolina. I will, like you, continue to pray for the Church.
 
36. Beth wrote on 5/14/2012 6:08:21 PM
Thank you so much for your compassionate stand and the courage to publically support those disenfranchised by our denomination. This gives me a glimmer of hope. I was told that the Central Conference has a separate Book of Discipline. If this is so, why were those delegates allowed to vote? Our church is one of only aix in Eastern PA who are open and affirming. Our pastor is officially retired, but ministers to our little flock because she too has felt that tug of God on her life. Our region has a large GLBT community. We are considering taking the words United Methodist off of our name. As a GLBT ally, I am so disheartened by the lack of love and respect demonstrated by fellow members of the UMC. I pray that enlightenment comes to our denomination, our country and our world.
 
37. Carolyn wrote on 5/14/2012 6:17:15 PM
Thank you, bishop, for your compassionate witness on this issue. I was saddened and disheartened to watch the debate on the floor of GC and our denomination’s continued rejection of full inclusion of GLBT persons. And saw the pain that was once again caused to our GLBT brothers and sisters in faith. We simply cannot seem to talk about this issue in a respectful, holy fashion. When it came to differences of opinion between Christians, John Wesley held that, “As to all opinions which do not strike at the root of Christianity, we think and let think.” What makes is so difficult, if not impossible, to come to a common understanding on this issue, or even to agree to disagree, is that both sides, for different reasons, believe that their positions on this issue do “strike at the root of Christianity.” I do not know how two such radically divergent positions can be reconciled, or even if they can be. But I do know that our failure on this issue is one reason that we are largely losing an entire generation of youth and young adults.
 
38. Jennifer wrote on 5/14/2012 6:30:08 PM
I was reading your blog post (I am in Bend OR) when my daughter e-mailed me from Cincinnati urging me to read the very same post. We are of agreement...never been so proud to be a Methodist and thank God for Bishop Hoshibata!
 
39. Tim wrote on 5/14/2012 6:31:14 PM
I'm not disagreeing with you, but would love for you to engage scripture when you make such a passionate plea and such strong statements. If scripture is our authority and God's Word, I would hope as a Bishop you would base your pleas and arguments off specific passages instead of general sweeping statements about acceptance and love. If the debate is ever to be won, it must be through Gods Word directly.
 
40. Teresa Salyer wrote on 5/14/2012 6:46:33 PM
Thank you Bishop for your words and leadership, they are very much appreciated!
 
41. Thom White Wolf Fassett wrote on 5/14/2012 6:49:28 PM
Thank you, bishop, for inspired leadership and truth-telling. The journey continues and justice marks the pathway.
 
42. Karl Kuessel wrote on 5/14/2012 7:04:30 PM
Thank you Bishop for your courage. I always will remember - Open Doors, Open Hearts, and Open Minds. Perhaps that should end with for some but not everyone.
 
43. Celeste Rossetto Dickey wrote on 5/14/2012 7:07:47 PM
Thank you Bishop! We are blessed to have your leadership in our Conference.
 
44. Raymond A. Foss wrote on 5/14/2012 7:26:41 PM
Thank you for this witness. We must share honestly and openly how we feel if we are to heal and to chart a course forward.
 
45. Jan Olson wrote on 5/14/2012 7:40:13 PM
Thank you Bishop for your witness and words of support, love and reason. I left Tampa feeling like I'd been beaten up by the UMC again. Hearing Bishop Carcano's words and reading yours gives me hope that LGBTQ persons do have a place in the UMC and there are those who see our gifts and graces and are willing to say it out loud, no matter what the consequences.
 
46. Deb wrote on 5/14/2012 7:44:17 PM
Sorry Bishop but I disagree. It isn't a position of love to help someone continue in a way of life that will harm them. You don't serve beer to drunks in church to affirm them. Maybe you should. Isn't that hateful and exclusive behavior by the same definition you are using here? People have more of a need to be healed than to be affirmed. This is why I and others are leaving the Methodist Church in this area. My new church which is full of young people is clear on helping people leave behind sin and death and yet it is growing fast with people who have never stepped foot in a church and those who have been damaged by church. God loves everyone but he loves us enough to heal us and bring us to wholeness, not leave us broken and lost.
 
47. Linda Moore wrote on 5/14/2012 7:49:56 PM
Thank you Bishop Hoshibata for your post blog today. I was hoping for a different outcome at GC, but it looks like the ultra conservatives in the church have had their way again. We are blessed to have you as our bishop here in Ore/Ida. It is indeed a devisive issue everywhere but we do need to remember what Jesus said about loving and accepting everyone!
 
48. Jim Frisbie wrote on 5/14/2012 7:59:59 PM
Thank you Bishop for your courage!
 
49. Linda Layne wrote on 5/14/2012 8:12:10 PM
Thank you, Bishop Hoshibata, for loving words and a loving presence. Bless you and bless the United Methodist Church as it stumbles through this hard time. Maybe this church won't survive this challenge. But the Holy Spirit will breathe new life into God's people despite our stumbling.
 
50. Audrey Graham wrote on 5/14/2012 8:21:29 PM
I appreciate so much your stand on this subject, Bishop Hoshibata. I love the Methodist Church, but am impatient with the leaders on this area. It is puzzling to me why this particular area of Old Testament Law is so fiercely defended when most Christians quite happily do not keep the Sabbath holy, adulterers are not killed, the parents of those born with defects are not considered sinners--and on and on. Do people always need someone to dislike or feel superior to?
 
51. Ruth Walton wrote on 5/14/2012 8:23:37 PM
Thank you, Bishop Hoshibata, for your words and your actions during General Conference. I applaud you. Your visible witness there, at those crucial moments, gives comfort and strength to those who despair and weep in the presence of such cruel actions and hurtful words. I know that you did what you did because that was what your faith compelled you to do. You may not have thought of your actions, in those moments, in terms of courage, but they were courageous. They were the right things at the right time. Those of us (like me) who, from the safety of retirement, can speak and act for justice without consideration of repercussion, especially commend you. I am proud of you and grateful for your leadership.
 
52. Pamela Nelson-Munson wrote on 5/14/2012 9:35:20 PM
.. and a soul-full *Amen* to your grappling with the events of GC.
 
53. Mike Lamb wrote on 5/14/2012 9:36:57 PM
Bishop Bob, thank you for your clearly reasoned and staed position on this whole issue. I too am saddened by reducing our denomination to insensitive labelling and callous disregard for the deeper person inside. As a Conference, we simply need to ask ourselves one fundamental question, " What would Jesus have done, in this environment? ". We know the answer full well, but still refuse to accept it. Whatever happened to Open Hearts, Open Minds and Open Doors? Thank you for maintaining such firm leadership, in the midst of devisiveness and distrust!
 
54. David Smith wrote on 5/14/2012 9:39:56 PM
Thank you so much for standing up for all people to have Gods love and grace. People like you and many others can have a lasting impact on the direction the UMC goes in the future. I have been questioning why I stay a UM but your thoughts on the blog gives me reason to stay in the Methodist Church.
 
55. Donna J. Gray-Davis, MS, BCPC, DAPA, UMC Pastoral Counselor wrote on 5/14/2012 9:40:27 PM
Aye. Refreshed and grateful to hear (read)your witness, I am still heavy with sadness for dark frail described nature.
 
56. Gayle Woods wrote on 5/14/2012 9:49:19 PM
Thank you for your witness, for being a figure and a voice in healing, for standing on the side of grace and love.
 
57. jim loewen wrote on 5/14/2012 10:00:31 PM
As was inspired by you at the first OR-ID annual conference. I loved your story about your Grandmother's influence on you becoming a minister. She surley understood Open doors.minds and hearts. I'm not surprised that you did what you did. I agree and support you 100%
 
58. Mary Macnab wrote on 5/14/2012 10:12:01 PM
Thank you so much for your remarks and especially for your actions. I tried to follow what was happening at GC and it left me feeling upset and sad. We actually lost two members a few years ago because of this issue (and when you have less than 50, that's a lot!). I tried to bring this topic up at our last ad. council meeting, but clearly people were not comfortable discussing it. Yet it impacts even the smallest church. You give me hope!
 
59. Jim Cantrell wrote on 5/14/2012 10:18:58 PM
Thank you, Bishop Hoshibata, for your gentle but powerful witness and presence @ GC. I served on the Church and Society B legislative committee and your guidance was exceptional. May God bless and keep you.
 
60. Sid Hall, Pastor of Trinity UMC in Austin wrote on 5/14/2012 10:24:17 PM
Thank you, Bishop Hoshibata. When you came down on the floor to greet us, to encourage us, I was on the floor as a part of the witness with my step-daughter Angela and a lesbian member of my church who has been called into the ordained UM ministry. The lesbian member was sobbing. I have been part of the Reconciling Witness at GC since 1992 and was arrested in 2000 but this was the first time my 18 year old daughter was there as a part of the witness. Of all the greetings and encouragement on the floor that day, she made a point to comment on you and what you said to her. You said something like, "Thank you for your witness. The church needs you and appreciates you." This meant the world to her (and to me). Even though she happens to be straight, she has grown up in a Reconciling Congregation and now plans return as a part of the witness in 2016. Thank you.
 
61. Sara Tate wrote on 5/14/2012 10:34:56 PM
Thank you so very much for your prophetic witness, Bishop Hoshibata. I'm a young adult (27) woman in ministry in Tennessee. I'm not yet commissioned but am regularly cautioned against speaking my heart and feelings on this matter if I want to "be ordained someday" (and that does reflect my calling). It is encouraging to no end to experience your bravery and voice concerning full inclusion. You are a wonderful encouragement to me. Blessings!
 
62. Gordon Nagayama Hall wrote on 5/14/2012 10:39:38 PM
Thank you for your love and courage, Bishop Hoshibata. I've admired you since I first met you when we both were in Seattle in the 1980s.
 
63. Gary Drum wrote on 5/14/2012 11:09:50 PM
It is witness of individuals such as yourselves that allows me to cling to some thread of hope for the UMC. It helps ease some of the crushing disappointment I felt when having to report to my congregations that nothing really was accomplished at GC 2012. Thank you so much.
 
64. Sandy Lofy wrote on 5/14/2012 11:10:14 PM
Ahhh, this is why I'm a Methodist!
 
65. Marvin Jones wrote on 5/14/2012 11:13:52 PM
Dear Bishop Hoshibata thank you for your witness of our loving Savior Jesus Christ. May our Lord bless and keep you in his arms of love.I pray too that our Lord keep in his sight all who need his love both within and outside the doors of our churches.
 
66. Duane Anders wrote on 5/14/2012 11:20:33 PM
Thanks Bishop for your witness.
 
67. Jim Eychaner wrote on 5/14/2012 11:32:29 PM
Re comments 36, 41, 46: Paul repeatedly uses the image of many members and one body, and at 1 Cor 12:21 says "The eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you." The GC position says we have no need of LGBTI persons who hear God's call to be in the church. A thread runs through the entire Bible, that God knows Who we are, not merely What. The GC position says What is more important. Yes, there are LGBTI persons who sin sexually, but that's not surprising because even more straight people sin sexually. We should treat others as God treats us, as Who.
 
68. Walker Shaw wrote on 5/14/2012 11:34:48 PM
Exactly! Thank you Bishop.
 
69. Dan Mackay wrote on 5/14/2012 11:40:35 PM
The late Rev. Ross Knotts is smiling down on you.
 
70. Gregory Taylor wrote on 5/14/2012 11:41:15 PM
As a lifelong Methodist, this is the one issue that pains me more than any other, in my Church that I otherwise love, appreciate, and support very much. I am so grateful for your eloquent, honest blog post and your powerful, brave actions. THANK YOU for being a true Christian.
 
71. Charles Lehrman, Buhl Idaho wrote on 5/14/2012 11:53:42 PM
Thank you Bishop for your stand at General Conference. It is only when I hear words such as yours that I delay my exit from the United Methodist Church. As I see it we cannot exist as a Conference with meaning and Mission until we freely admit our differences, change the Discipline to truly include everyone, including all sexual orientations. If this cannot happen then I see splitting into two General Conferences is the only answer. Thank you for truly expressing what I consider the true spirit and mind of God!
 
72. April Hall Cutting wrote on 5/15/2012 12:04:29 AM
Bishop, your boldness and compassion heartened so many at General Conference -- you are a witness for justice to the whole church. Being a reconciling congregation increases the vitality of the church I serve!
 
73. Jan Nelson wrote on 5/15/2012 12:40:24 AM
Thank you for this. I can't stop working on the issue of inclusion for so many reasons, but you remind us that there is so much more that Jesus calls us to be doing in the world. Not only is the church doing a great injustice to many, but in our ongoing arguments we are drowning out God's call to feed the hungry, heal the sick, and so much more. I'm fearful for the future of the church, but there's so much we could do with this global connection that I have to keep trying.
 
74. Katherine Simmons Conolly wrote on 5/15/2012 12:49:17 AM
Dear Bishop, God bless you for your courage and for your tneder heart as you stand in solidarity with our GLBT sisters and brothers. There are not words to adequately espress my gratitude for you.
 
75. Kathryn Johnson wrote on 5/15/2012 12:52:04 AM
Blessings on you Bishop Hoshibata. One of the most painful things about being a United Methodist in recent years has been the seeming inability of the church to face the reality of where we are. We have proclaimed unity in the midst of disunity. We have spoken of reaching the next generation while totally ignoring one of the major human rights issues of that very generation. We have spoken of “Holy Conferencing” while those in the very room were in agony. You have powerfully named the reality of where we find ourselves as a church. We have longed for a leader to tell the truth. Thank you for being that leader.
 
76. Dave Reiter, Aloha UMC wrote on 5/15/2012 12:58:54 AM
I join with many others who feel blessed by your insight and compassion. Thank you for following your heart at the conference and sharing your story with us now that you are back in the northwest.
 
77. Greg wrote on 5/15/2012 1:10:44 AM
I think I am more disturbed that the Methodist church seems to have lost its focus on what the "Good News of Jesus Christ" really is: That we are ALL sinners in need of a Savior and that by placing our faith in Jesus, we can be saved. We have become distracted from this core doctrine and replaced it with another gospel, the "good news" that we help the hungry, homeless, unemployed, making everyone feel good about themselves while ignoring the problem of sin.
 
78. Cesie Delve Scheuermann wrote on 5/15/2012 1:43:25 AM
So, so proud and blessed to be under your spiritual leadership. Thank you for standing up when so many don't. God bless you.
 
79. Mark wrote on 5/15/2012 2:12:59 AM
The reasons for the decline of membership is Not because we have excluded a group of people that refuse to repent of their chosen lifestyle. It is because of those of you who promote it as an "alternative lifestyle". It is for that very liberal stance that the Progressive leadership has inflicted upon the members of the UMC and has caused it to be divided. Huge numbers of us conservatives have left in droves because of your ungodly progressive liberal mandates. More of us will leave as this outing of our liberal leaders continue. Blacks in North Carolina voted against the black Presidents liberal beliefe in gay marriage by 67% to 33%. You cry and moan that the 5% are "excluded" when in fact they exclude themselves by the choices that they make. They demand The Church bless their sin and in doing so you become Conformed to the world instead of Transforming it. So then you exclude us the 60% of us who are trying to walk in the literal teachings in the Bible. It would be a whole lot easier for us just to show up at a Mega Chruch on Sunday and leave this whole mess than to fight the entrenched Obama loving leadership. Mark Gotcha! If you still love Obama then the shoe fits ;)
 
80. Rev. Bill Bowdle wrote on 5/15/2012 2:29:05 AM
Bishop, I'm wondering if you may be showing unjustified presumption in your assumption that you know the mind and emotions of defenders of the current disciplinary position of the UMC by your attribution of a fear-saturated motivational state in their expression of supposed homophobia. Your inability to respect those defenders' expressions as rooted in what they believe to be earnest Scripturally-based convictions means you exclude yourself from mediating any meaningful discussion between the opposing viewpoints. Among the conservative UMC Clergy with whom I connect, I discern a very different mental state than the homophobia you project onto them. I discern a genuine desire to challenge those struggling with a gay or lesbian inclinations/behaviors to permit God's Spirit to lead them into a lifestyle consistent with the very tough moral demands of scripture, within which scripture they earnestly believe that homosexual behavior is consistenly portrayed as outside God's expected norms for His followers. You obviously don't agree with that interpretation of scripture, but to attribute homophobic motivations to every UMC opponent to your position is a conclusion that will only deepen the divide because of its totally unjust, inaccurate attribution of a motive that simply does not exist in the hearts of many values-based UMC clergy and laypersons. Your homophobic label may be accurate for some people within the conservative UMC movement. However, your discernment of homophobia in the face of every opponent is not a reality-based discernment, and I hope you have the wisdom to admit that. Surely you know by now that meaningful dialogue with your opponents will not occur until you can accurately articulate their position as they understand it to exist, even though you may vigorously oppose that viewpoint. Can't you acknowledge that the internal state of mind in many of your opponents is one of respect for their understanding of God's mandates, even though you are deeply convinced their understanding of those mandates are in error? Your erroneous discernment of homophobic motivation in all opponents (if I'm rightly discerning your perceptions)can only serve to obscure your clear understanding of your adversaries, and therefore deepen the divide, as you unleash your verbal artillery against a projected phantom target that you paint on the face of each opponent through your perception of their homophobia.
 
81. James Song wrote on 5/15/2012 2:48:32 AM
Let's stick to bible teaching, not the social issue. The decline of the church membership is because of teachig 0f social issues. God still loves everyone who believes in the bible teaching. We can not ignore the bible. Let Obama fix the social issue.
 
82. Lucile Hines wrote on 5/15/2012 4:31:21 AM
I am 96 years of age and have served my Lord since I became a Christian at 16 years of age. My husband, now deceased, served the church 50 years as a pastor and a District Superintendent.We became United Methodists with the union of the former Evangelical United Brethren Church and the Methodist Church. We opted to stay with the denomination. This was after much prayer and deliberation and if you have been in the church for a time or you are familiar with church history you are aware of the uniting of the two denominations. . We attended the General Convention when it convened in Grand Rapids, Michigan then went directly to the Good News Convention in Dallas, Texas. The Good News group termed itself a Forum for Biblical Christianity within the denomination. This was a choice to stay within the denomination and affirm Biblical viewpoints rather than splitting off from the main body. We attended these conventions in our search for God's will for us personally during this turbulent period in the churchPrior to the Union, I was Branch President of the Conference Women's Missionary Organization and attended the World Missionary convention in Kitchener, Ontario This was a very moving experience. I have been so grateful for the fact that the Church adopted the position re the Homosexual life style at the last General Conference. I felt it was compassionate without compromising the Biblical position on this matter. I do not wish to debate this question, but I want to challenge any reader to read Romans, chapter one in The Message by Earnest Peterson. If you are not familiar with this translation of Scripture in today's language, I think it will be enlightening and clearly present God's view on this most controversial subject. I must add that this passage of Scripture in any translation carries the same message. I referenced it in The Message in the interest of clarity. I am concerned that as Christians we cannot get the message that we must genuinely love ALL persons at ALL times, BUT we CAN love ALL people and not accept their lifestyle. The love of our Lord is extended to ALL people but on His terms and not human terms. I have a relative who is in this lifestyle and our family loves him and allows him his lifestyle without trying to change him. He is accountable to God. However, as in all life's choices, we must also accept the consequences of the fall out of our choices. I have been following the e-mail reports of the sessions and was grieved by the interruption of the session to which Bishop refers. I have been so grateful that the vote was to retain the decision to retain the wording of the action taken at the last General conventions and now I am grieved that this subject is being opened up again as a result of this demonstration. Lest the reader think that this is the meanderings of an old lady's mind, you need to know that I have personally dealt with this face to face on a number of occasions, I was Administrator of a parole group home for girls in Oregon for 25 years during which over 800 girls were served for varying lengths of time. I have dealt with all types of behaviors, including a girl who attempted murder in Portland,another girl who was having an affair with a married man who shot his wife dragging us into a court scene and of course drug use, runaways, lesbians, pimps and prostitutes---on and on. Courtney Love was in the home briefly. I have not lived a sheltered life but I have endeavored to maintain a life of integrity. The rewards have been such a blessing. The contacts from former residents this Mother's Day has blessed me beyond expression. I am very active politically via e-mail and in person, despite having had knee and hip replacements, relying on a walker to get around. I intend to uphold Biblical principles and show Christ like LOVE as long as I live. My prayer is that our leaders will proceed cautiously under the inspiration of God's spirit and Biblical principles. seeking TRUTH, remembering Jesus response to Pilate's age old question, "What is TRUTH? and JESUS ANSWER. HE IS STILL THE ANSWER TODAY, EVERYDAY, IN EVERY AGE. WE MUST SEEK HIM AND ABIDE BY HIS TEACHINGS. HE IS THE LIVING WORD, THE WRITTEN WORD ALIVE TODAY, lUCILE HINES
 
83. Rev. Daniel S wrote on 5/15/2012 5:31:29 AM
I am really saddened that a social issue was made into a theological issue and that so many bishops and pastors fail to see this. Of course God loves everyone, BUT he doesn't mean that he wants us to keep on living in sin. I do believe that the homosexuality is "incompatible with Christian teaching", because the Bible tells us so. The truth is that decline in membership of our church isn't happening because of not including the LGB population, but because of excluding the Word of God as the only authority and exchanging it with social justice of ONE country. It was clear (from the GC and from this article) that the US and Africa do not see eye to eye on this issue. This is not because Africans are savages and have no idea what is going on, but this should rather be a wake up call for us to question ourselves and see whether the brothers and sisters from Africa don't see this issue with "better eyes". The US has always had the arrogance of thinking they're the best (primarily in politics, economics, but it got into other areas of life, too). Well, clearly, this is an evidence that we have gone astray. May God be merciful to us all!
 
84. Mary Elizabeth Moore wrote on 5/15/2012 5:38:12 AM
Thank you, Bishop Hoshibata, for your honest, compassionate witness. The discussions at General Conference too often crossed into mean-spiritedness - line-drawing between those inside and outside of God's grace, threats about church decline, and harsh words toward the LGBT community. On the other hand, people of many perspectives made genuine efforts to invite the church to acknowledge our diversity of views on homosexuality and to ignite our ministries throughout the world. Your personal witness invites us into a deeper truth telling that opens ourselves to one another human to human, Christian to Christian. Your witness invites us to join together in MISSION, reaching our hands outward rather than closing our circle. Our mission is too large for pettiness; it is too large for one group of persons or one set of interpretations. It is the mission of Jesus Christ!
 
85. Cynthia Abrams wrote on 5/15/2012 8:21:08 AM
Thank you, Bishop Hoshbata! To see a Bishop moving amongst people was like a soothing balm rejecting the hurtful and divisive language preceding this witness. Whatever we make of motivations to maintain the language, the continued marginalization is hurtful to individuals and to the Church and further, rejection of language to find a middle ground was quite simply hypocritical. In my conversations and experiences with family and friends, their motivation for church membership is based primarily on outstanding worship, preaching and hospitality. Revitalization should focus on places where this is sadly lacking. Too many of our churches act like a squabbling social club and not like the Vision of God. I reject rhetoric and hyperbole that most or many people leave the church by including others in the fold of God's love. That makes absolutely no sense to me and runs counter to the Gospel. Thank you for your witness!
 
86. Jackson Day wrote on 5/15/2012 8:43:12 AM
Thank you for your witness. Within a week of General Conference, I was in correspondence with a life-long United Methodist who is now outside the church. Our continued rejection of our LGBT brothers and sisters was the reason. I wish those who are concerned about declining membership could acknowlege that dimension.
 
87. Don M Beach wrote on 5/15/2012 8:58:43 AM
It bothers me that we calim to be the church with "open hearts, open minds, and open doors" as banners in our sanctuary have proclaimed, but our actions do not seem to match that statement.
 
88. Bill Ford wrote on 5/15/2012 9:16:55 AM
My thoughts and prayers are with you Bishop. This is an easy decision for those who walk in the light and apply the BERT examination to the question of inclusion. I am very disappointed once again that our more narrowly focused brothers and sisters can not find it in their hearts to love EVERYONE!
 
89. DK Addams wrote on 5/15/2012 10:20:44 AM
One post asked/stated, "What is TRUTH? and Jesus answer(ed). He is still the answer today, everyday, in every age. We must seek Him and abide by his teachings. He is the Living Word, the written Word alive today." If Jesus didn't mention homosexuality in his teachings, and we are to 'abide by his teachings,'why is it such a contentious issue? Let's move forward and really be a church of "Open Hearts, Open Minds and Open Doors."
 
90. Gayle Basten wrote on 5/15/2012 10:27:28 AM
Thank you, Bishop. It would never get this messy, political and hurtful if we simply lived into the commandment to love one another. Thank you for sharing and daring to respond to the God tug.
 
91. Ron Oliveira wrote on 5/15/2012 11:35:10 AM
Thank you, Bishop. I was following the news of the Gen. Conf. while on a trip overseas. I was deeply saddened and angered by the "decisions" made and started to question if I wanted to remain part of the UMC. Your posting has given me some peace with this issue and hope that "official policy" will eventually change. Bless you.
 
92. Patti Plunkett wrote on 5/15/2012 11:43:47 AM
Jesus Christ summed it up: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Which to me means God already loves both of us, and Jesus expects us to follow this example.
 
93. Karen Oliveto, pastor, Glide Memorial, San Francisco wrote on 5/15/2012 12:38:17 PM
Thank you, Bishop, for both your prophetic words and your pastoral presence. You taught the UMC that no matter our differences, we are always called to stand on the side of love. God bless you!
 
94. Steve Sprecher wrote on 5/15/2012 12:47:04 PM
Thank you, Bishop for your compassionate, reasoned and loving invitation for us to find ways to move beyond divisiveness to a place of welcome for all.
95. Christine Kelley wrote on 5/15/2012 1:05:56 PM
Thank you and welcome home!
 
96. Helen wrote on 5/15/2012 1:06:03 PM
Let's keep Obama out of ths. He is just doing it for votes. Marriage should be between a man and a woman What is happening to our country?
 
97. Alan Wells wrote on 5/15/2012 1:11:22 PM
Thank you Bishop for your insightful comments. I was horrified recently to learn the United Methodist ruling on the issue of homosexuality. Can't comprehend that a church that identifies with openness can be so misguided. I had many gay friends in when i worked in California and do not accept that they are any different from the majority of people I meet in church every Sunday. This awakening is long overdue.
 
98. Doug Wilson wrote on 5/15/2012 1:43:46 PM
I remember a T-shirt I saw on a toddler down at Seaside one day that said "I'm know I'm special 'cause God don't make no junk." To love a Creator God is to love all he creates. I'm not aware of any exceptions.
 
99. Jon K Brown wrote on 5/15/2012 2:31:27 PM
Tears filled mt eyes! -- so moved was I by your word and deed at GC. It brings back many memories of courageous words and deeds of daring leaders during the struggle for racial justice. We can recall all the uses of Biblical sophistry, sociological rationales, and sexual fears put forward -- as we watched the assassinations, brutality, bombings, and reprisals. Hateful attitudes and unjust laws, as well as the quiet acquiesence, the looking the other way in the face of blame, scapegoating and brutality;the deafening public silence in board meetings--all contributing to the violent torture and murder of one of my closest friends. He had sheltered me and fed me in a time of trouble. But for him there was no mercy, no justice. But I recall the Danish King Kluth, who with all his power and might, could not turn back the tides of the sea. Just so, this unrelenting call for justice will not be denied. Hold fast! Thank you for you bold and courageous witness. What a guy!
 
100. Mark Fredericksen wrote on 5/15/2012 4:00:18 PM
As numerous tweets pointed out during debates -- finances and restructuring didn't involve scripture. Scripture in the homosexuality debate is used only to bolster clear cultural differences. It is the cultural difference separating the denomination. The SE/African culture comes at humanity as depraved and needing redemption from sin. The Western/liberal culture comes at humanity as of individuals of sacred worth in need of showing love to others equally. The two ways are fundamentally incompatible and there will never be agreement. The decline in membership just may be related to the weariness in "The Issue" being the definition of Christianity or ministry. I am leaving the UM denomination because of this extreme fatigue with "The Issue." I am going to the Episcopal Church where it is more settled and we can get on with the work of discipleship, spirituality and mission.
 
101. Peg Isaacson wrote on 5/15/2012 4:01:12 PM
Thank you Bishop for your witness at GC. Much time and discussion was focused on reconciliation and forgiveness for our treatment of Indigenous peoples and also connecting with the AME and other churches. This acceptable belief 50 -100 years ago was that "these people" should not be part of the church and needed to be changed to fit into "our church mold". Sound familiar?? We need to realize we were wrong thn and we are wrong now. All of God's children are precious and are our brothers and sisters. We cannot wait another 40 years or more and then beg forgiveness for our treatment of our LGBT brothers & sisters.
 
102. Martha wrote on 5/15/2012 4:29:15 PM
Bishop, I'm the poor soul from Virginia that could do no more than cry on your shoulder at the end of the love feast at General Conference....Just "thank you." Nothing more needs be said.
 
103. Rev. RC Bupp wrote on 5/15/2012 5:08:38 PM
Bishop Hoshibata, while I respect your personal position on this issue I would offer a dissenting voice related to your commentary. First, you might try actually reading the Disciplne as to what is and is not “legislated.” When you’re finished, you might consider reading Paul’s Epistles before you attempt to make the Old and New Testaments the point of demarcation on this issue. “Reason” is directly tied to the theology of John Wesley himself and if you took the time to discover it’s actual definition and use you’d see that your understanding may be of Webster, but not of Methodism. Finally, your description of those whose viewpoints on the authority of scripture that differ from your own as “homophobic” is evident of the very narrow mindedness with which you charge those who differ from you. Your commentary sir is the tantrum of a 4-year old... I didn’t get my way so now I’m going to yell at the world.
 
104. Kelly Wood wrote on 5/15/2012 6:41:25 PM
Unfortunately, the GLBT community is suffering the woes previously felt by women, the developmentally disabled, African-Americans and other ethnicities. It is so sad that we humans, even though we are commanded otherwise by our Lord and Savior, st

 

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