Coming "over a way that with tears has been watered": Thank you, Bishop Martin McLee

Bishop Martin McLee "Church trials result in harmful polarization and continue the harm brought upon our gay and lesbian sisters and brothers."  -Bishop Martin McLee, United Methodist Bishop of New York and Connecticut

How refreshing it was to open my New York Times this morning (3/11/2014) and read this headline, "Methodist Bishop to End Trials for Ministers Who Perform Gay Weddings"

News media in recent months have carried stories of United Methodist clergy being charged, brought to trial, found guilty and in one instance having ordination credentials withdrawn for performing a same sex marriage. How strange it is in this Lenten Season when Christians on the Friday before Easter will again acknowledge the trial, guilty verdict and death sentence of Jesus, we have been reading in recent months about the trials of United Methodist clergy. Trials because they have been in ministry to and with same sex couples as they have performed their marriages. Jesus was an innocent victim at his trial, were not these clergy, innocent victims as well?

United Methodist Bishop Melvin Talbert (center) marries Joe Openshaw (left) and Bobby Prince at Covenant Community United Church of Christ in Center Point, Ala. Photo by the Rev. Laura Rossbert, Reconciling Ministries Network.

It is because Truth in Progress has sought to address racism, heterosexism and religion, that I write the following; Bishop Leontine T.C. Kelly and Bishop Melvin Talbert and now Bishop Martin McLee, have through statements and through actions, demonstrated a commitment to full and equal rights for LGBTQ persons, same sex couples, and clergy who perform marriages for those couples. Bishop Kelly, now deceased, and Bishops Talbert and McLee are African Americans.

I have over the years expressed the belief that those of us whose racial history is expressed in the words, "We have come over a way that with tears has been watered. We have come treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered" (From "Lift Every Voice and Sing"), are challenged to be leaders within the Church in support of persons who for any reason are treated as being less-than-equal.

May Bishops Kelly, Talbert and McLee because of their prophetic and pastoral witness give all of us courage, "for the facing of this hour". They have dared to make those words of Martin Luther King that I often quote, "Injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere," come alive.

Thank you Bishops Kelly, Talbert and McLee!