First, thank you all so much for your many supportive e-mails, cards, letters, gifts, and contributions to my legal fund. Chris and I have tried to answer as much of the paper mail as we can, but there is still much more to answer. We have barely even begun to answer the more than 2,000 e-mails we have received since the trial. I have received many invitations to speak, but because I am still working full-time at First United Methodist Church of Germantown, I can only accept a very few. We want you to know that we feel and appreciate the impact of your care, support, and prayers.
I learned last week that the Northeastern Jurisdictional Committee on Appeals will hear my case on Thursday, April 28 ( from 9 a.m. to noon at the Sheraton International Hotel, on the grounds of Baltimore Washington International Airport ) .
As you may know, I am appealing several decisions of law that were made during the trial and may have affected the outcome. The two most important of these are: first, Bishop Yeakel's decision not to permit persons to serve on the trial court if they felt that their conscience conflicted with the law; and second, his decision not to allow any arguments about the justice or constitutionality of the law on which the charge was based.
The public portion of the hearing will be very brief: only my counsel, the counsel for the church, and members of the Committee on Appeals will speak. The Committee on Appeals will deliberate in private and their decision may not be released to the public until the following day.
I have requested that the appeal hearing be open because I believe it can be an important educational moment for the United Methodist Church. However, I do not need or want a large presence of supporters there in person. What would feel most supportive to me personally would be for concerned people to be in prayer wherever you are—and perhaps even to gather with others at your church or in your community to pray for me, for everyone involved in the hearing, and for the whole denomination.
Through this process, I have learned more and more just how powerful loving relationships can be. You might also take this opportunity to share your own personal story with someone you care about whose views of homosexuality and Christianity are different from your own. Straight allies have stories, too. You could use the day of the appeal hearing to write a loving, personal letter, make a phone call, or have coffee with someone you care about.
I've been amazed at how deeply and respectfully people can listen when they sense that they are also being respected and listened to. And I've been impressed with how broad and varied the spectrum of opinion in the United Methodist Church really is.
Some people I would have stereotyped as 'conservative' or 'reactionary' have really surprised me with their thoughtful, reflective responses.
Meanwhile, as you pray, here are some of the specific things I am praying for these days: For clarity and humility to stay focused on my day-to-day ministry in my own church and my local community.
For times of Sabbath quiet and rest, to hear what God might be trying to say to me. For healthy balance and perspective, and to remember that, whatever may be happening in my life, it continues to be a life of comfort and privilege and ease and joy.