FLY CREEK – Some members of the Fly Creek United Methodist Church have allied with their Oneonta colleagues, penning a letter expressing “disappointment and dismay” that the international church has affirmed bans on gay pastors and gay marriage.
Thirty-seven regular attendees also signed it, said Julie Huntsman, who drafted the letter with Chris Kjolhede.
But the pastor, the Rev. Sharon Rankins-Burd, did not sign it, and Huntsman said it is not the Fly Creek congregation’s official position.
Meanwhile, at First UM in Oneonta, 45 members Thursday, May 9, approved a “We Refuse” resolution, saying their congregation will not comply with the decision of a General Conference in St. Louis in February that affirmed the ban on gay pastors and gay marriage. It’s called the “Traditional Plan,” one of three before the conference.
However, one attendee said First UM has 400 members in total.
Other local churches are supporting the General Conference. Elm Park, up Chestnut Street from First UM, has not declared a position. The pastor, Rev. Donna Martin said in a voice mail she was “not someone who did that.”
In response, Bishop Mark Webb of the Upper New York Methodist Conference, based in Syracuse, issued a video after the February conference saying “I grieve for the harm done to the LGBTQIA community,” but urging congregations to “travel this road together.”
“We Refuse” and the Fly Creek letter will be discussed at the Upper New York annual conference in Syracuse June 5-6, and delegates will be elected to a 2020 General Conference, where this year’s decision will be debated again, and perhaps overturned.
The bishop’s spokesman, Steve Hustedt, said at least six resolutions on the Traditional Plan will be debated.
Oneonta-based District Superintendent Everett Bassett has not broken with the decision for the Traditional Plan, but is telling local congregations he is listening to their concerns.
After Huntsman sent him the Fly Creek letter, he attended Sunday service there, she said.