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Andrew Fiser, Brian Rossbert, News Central, Niger Woodruff

STATEMENT: The Rainbow Stoles

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Rev. Andrew Fiser

Of the handful of recurring questions heard around the halls of the 2012 TN Annual Conference, one of them certainly involves the subject of the “rainbow stoles.” On the floor of Annual Conference yesterday Rev. Andrew Fiser, Co-Pastor Edgehill UMC in Nashville answered those questions with the following statement:

Notes from Annual Conference secretary: 5:15 pm, Andrew Fiser, co-pastor of Edgehill UMC read a statement entitled “The Rainbow Stole” with permission from Bishop Chamness. It read:
“The stoles you see draped around the necks of many Annual Conference attendees are signs of God’s covenantal love. They are reminders of the bow that God set in the clouds as ‘a sign of the covenant between [God] and every living creature…’ (Genesis 9:14). They are reminders of the ‘yoke’ of Christ, of our calling to obedience and service in the name of the one who is Love. And these stoles a way of reminding us that we as the church sometimes mistake diversity for divisiveness, and unity with uniformity.

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Rev. Niger Woodruff

These stoles are a witness like that of Paul after the Holy Spirit converted the Gentiles. We bear witness to you our Sisters and Brothers that we have seen God at work in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons. We stand in solidarity with them and in opposition to our official church position that homosexuality is ‘incompatible with Christian teaching.’ (2008 Book of Discipline, ¶161 G).

With these stoles we would like to keep before the conference the question of Paul to the church in Jerusalem, ‘If then God gave them the same gift that God gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who (are we) that (we) could hinder God?’ It is an important question to ask in a room full of Gentile Christians.

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Rossbert family

If you would like more information about the stoles, please ask someone wearing one. If you would like more information about working for full inclusion of all of God’s children please check out our website narmministries.org.”

Disclaimer: The TN UMC Conference Council on Connectional Ministries does not necessarily endorse, support, sanction, encourage, verify, or agree with the comments, or opinions in this statement and/or that of the Nashville Reconciling Ministries. The blog format offered here allows for anyone reading to add to or join in the discussion on this or any post added to this site.


> TNUMC.org: News Central; About Us, Annual Conference

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Discussion

15 thoughts on “STATEMENT: The Rainbow Stoles

  1. In quoting the Bible, have you forgotten that God has called homosexuality an abomination? You took a collection for AIDS and that would not be necessary in the first place if it wasn’t for homosexual behavior. Now it is passed through all kinds of fornication. The Bible warns against sexual deviancy toward the last days. We are to save the sinner, not condone the sin. We who disagree with you do not hate the sinner, we hate the sin. Proponents of this want to bring the church to the world, not the world to the church..

    Posted by Susan West | June 12, 2012, 7:24 pm
    • Take a look at other “abominations” — eating shrimp, wearing clothes of two materials, being insolent to parents, and on and on. So do we check the fabrics of clergy robes before allowing people to be ordained? Or ask about their dietary habits? It’s pretty clear that the church long ago decided that some things that are “abominations” were so for a particular culture and not ours. I’m personally more concerned about the hundreds of times that we are told not to charge interest. Homosexuality is mentioned a few times — and some of these scriptures are really aimed at pagan worship. But charging interest is mentioned over and over and over. (Search for “interest” on a Bible website.) But how many church members own stock? Or loan money at interest? Or worse, own payday loan businesses? Obviously, we somehow ignore these admonitions and say that this has no force in our culture today.

      But the key for me is something in the statement that Andrew read: “We bear witness to you our Sisters and Brothers that we have seen God at work in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons…..
      With these stoles we would like to keep before the conference the question of Paul to the church in Jerusalem, ’If then God gave them the same gift that God gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who (are we) that (we) could hinder God?’” I have seen the gifts that gay and lesbian members have given to my church — and I have seen the incredibly powerful spirit that has filled us all, gay and straight, as we have participated together in the body of Christ.

      The various “sides” of the debate about homosexuality can argue about scripture, about the way we understand the Bible, about whether gay people are born “that way,” and on and on. But the key is the quality of the life in a congregation that values all of us. “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.” (Matthew 7:16-18)

      At communion each Sunday, we say “Everyone is welcome at this table!” And we mean it. Perhaps you could come and visit. You’d be welcome too. (Sorry to go on so long!)

      Posted by Mike Hodge | June 12, 2012, 11:00 pm
      • There is a difference between man’s use of the word abomination and God’s use. What is next bestiality? If we decide to go along with the world, then one day that, too will be ok. Where does it end?

        Posted by Susan West | June 13, 2012, 9:25 pm
      • Well, Susan, I was quoting the Bible to show that there are many things considered “an abomination”. Seems that you were the one being selective about what is an abomination. Linking bestiality to homosexuality is ridiculous — and is quite frankly insulting. Sounds like you have a personal problem with homosexuals and are trying to use the Bible to prop up your own feelings. Be glad to talk to you personally sometimes, as these blogs don’t really help us understand one another in the way that a personal conversation over coffee might.

        Posted by Mike Hodge | June 14, 2012, 7:01 am
    • It is a common reference to “hate the sin” and “do not hate the sinner.” If that were true, acceptance of the LGBT community would be the norm, rather than .the norm being judgmentalism and ostracism. Try telling a child who may be struggling with AIDS that they are an abomination to God, that they are unwelcome, that it is because of homosexuality that they are forced to suffer…and please do not quote Leviticus unless, that is, you will follow all that is written. It’s a juicy book and totally impractical.

      Posted by Bob Boone | June 13, 2012, 12:33 pm
  2. All Jesus asked us to do was to love one another and love God…while the “religious folk” of His day were busy condemning Jesus for who he was eating with or talking to, Jesus was busy sharing the love of God that is for all people. The church has spent too much time condemning and excluding. Now we see that the rest of the world is leaving us behind and considering us irrelevant and hypocritical. If we simply shared the love God has given us, we’d be building kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven…where all of God’s children are embraced and oppression is a thing of the past.

    Posted by N. Neelley Hicks | June 13, 2012, 3:01 pm
  3. If you really want to help these people, get them away from that life style. It is not normal and not what God wants. There a a lot of “good people” who will go to hell, because they just didn’t believe. Faith (and talk) without action is dead. I hate no one, but I truly believe what the Bible says because it is from God.

    Posted by Susan West | June 13, 2012, 9:31 pm
    • So which part do you believe? Just the part that you interpret to be against gay people? Or the part about “Loving God and loving neighbor”? Or any of the other parts that we have already mentioned?

      Posted by Mike Hodge | June 13, 2012, 10:45 pm
      • I believe that the ENTIRE Bible is the Word of God, and you can’t just ignore the parts you don’t like. Why do insist on defending what God has called an abomination, instead of helping these people. If we begin to think that we can justify things by saying, “God is a loving God”, we will accept anything. God will tolerate so much, but do not forget about the flood. The rainbow is a new covenant, but does not wipe out sin.

        Posted by Susan West | June 14, 2012, 3:35 pm
      • Susan, you don’t seem to understand what I’ve been trying to say. YOU are picking and choosing if you only focus on homosexuality. You are not out telling people they shouldn’t eat shrimp (Leviticus 11:9-12). So I guess YOU don’t believe the entire Bible is to be obeyed. “And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of all the living creatures that are in the waters, they are an abomination unto you, and they shall be an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, and their carcasses ye shall have in abomination.”

        So — how do you decide which parts you believe? The Bible says eating shrimp is “an abomination.” Do you believe that? If not, how did you decide that that part isn’t worthy of being obeyed?

        By the way, I’m still interested in ways that we can actually talk to one another, instead of just posting things here. I’d be glad to have a cup of coffee sometime. We might learn that there are things we DO agree on — in addition to at least one that we disagree on.

        Posted by Mike Hodge | June 14, 2012, 9:56 pm
    • Hell is separation from the love of God. If I begin taking on the role of judge of who is good and who is not…whose life style is acceptable and whose is not, I will be separating myself from the love of God and living in hell…even on earth. I choose to accept God’s love for me and share that with others…and leave the judging of us all to God.

      Posted by N. Neelley Hicks | June 14, 2012, 9:35 am
  4. The Holy Spirit has not nudged me yet to wear a rainbow stole but I have accepted whole heartedly the teaching of Jesus that we are to love God and neighbor (everyone God has created). I see no way around Jesus commandment to do this. It is what fuels my vision for ministry. We are to do everything we can to help people (all people) grow in their relationships with God and all their sisters and brothers. And make no mistake about it; we are all the sons and daughters of Abraham and sisters and brothers of Christ, whether you choose to wear a stole or not. We need to use the energy God gives us to share God’s grace and love with everyone and leave the judgment to God.

    Posted by Phil Ross | June 14, 2012, 9:08 am

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