At the end of September 2016 I sent a letter to newly appointed Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi of the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. I am a member and ordained elder in that conference and started my ministry within the former Erie Annual Conference in June 1959. A few years later there was a merger which formed the Western PA Annual Conference. Three years were spent in Kentucky when I was enrolled at Asbury Theological Seminary. I retired in 1996 and in November 1999 started as a pastor on part time basis to a small congregation of the Gipsy Christian Church in Gipsy PA and have been with those fine folks until the present time. I received no response to the first letter, copies of which were also sent to the 10 District Superintendents of the conference. The following letter also deals with an extremely critical issue as you will see when you read it.
Dear Bishop Moore-Koikoi and Cabinet Members of W. PA Annual Conference:
This is my second letter to you. The first was back in the last week of September 2016 and raised the critical issue of the illegal election of a “married” lesbian pastor to the episcopacy in the United Methodist Church and now serving two conferences in the Western Jurisdiction! There was also another issue I mentioned in that communication. This letter deals with my receiving your email letter about the meeting of the active and retired bishops of the Northeastern Jurisdiction which was held recently.
In that letter you bishops express intense dissatisfaction with President Trump’s actions pertaining to travel restrictions put in place. It appears we have come to the place where on social media, through the mainstream media (or is it slipstream media), by high profile Democrats, rogue Republicans, and numerous pastors and church leaders the president is being caught in a cross-fire for about everything he does! In order to be in vogue, that obviously is the proper thing to do at the present time!
The one statement you bishops used did raise a question in my mind. It was, “In response to Executive Orders from the President, it is our hope that you will once again embrace the mandate from Jesus to be in ministry to the least, the last, and the lost among us.”
The question is simply this: when you make reference to the “least” would you be including unborn children? In the “land of the free and the home of the brave” we have had conspiracies which have resulted in the intentional homicides of about 60 million unborn children in the last 44 years! Do these victims qualify as being among the “least?”
I attended a few decades of annual conferences up to retirement and a few years after retirement, but never in any of them did I ever hear a bishop boldly speak out against the United States’ version of holocaust nor declare that if this abomination is not ended, it will pave the way for the wrath of a holy God to be poured out upon us in unfathomable judgment!
I heard of a lot of other things such as the evil of gambling – in fact, one year the whole conference centered around the issue of gambling with an “expert” present to help us map out strategies as to how to deal with this devilish thing! And there were those times that the emphasis was on fighting malaria in Africa and how huge numbers of people were dying, including many children. But again, no mention ever made as to the thousands of unborn children being murdered each week in our own republic!
So, when you use that word, “least,” to whom do you apply it? At least a few, perhaps a very limited few, would agree that unborn children ought to be included. But it is highly unlikely that they will even be mentioned in a very soft whisper!
And another thing about the 60 million victims – if one allows oneself to ponder this for a bit, it would be impossible to deny the fact that if those 60 million had been permitted to live instead of being murdered, a considerable number would have ended up becoming members of the United Methodist Church! And no one except God Himself knows what contribution they would have made in the life and ministry of the church. For anyone who has at least a tad of sensitivity, it is not at all pleasant to think about such a thing, is it?
A cartoonist captioned the critical nature of this issue very well in a drawing years ago. His drawing consisted of a man on his knees frantically praying and calling out, “O God, send us someone who will invent a cure for cancer and other deadly diseases that afflict us.” A voice replies through the clouds saying, “I did, but you aborted them!” I rest my case!
Clayton D. Harriger, Ordained Elder
Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference
The United Methodist Church