March 5, 2019
To: Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi and Members of the Cabinet
Subject: Approval of the Traditional Plan at General Conference 2019 and related issues.
I preached my first sermon on June 21, 1959 at two Methodist Churches to which I had just been appointed in the New Castle area. Most of clergy, including the bishop, in the W PA Conference were not around at that time. There may be a few who are older than I, but very few! If I and my congregations had been told at that time that the day would come when homosexuality and lesbianism would be practiced and accepted within the denomination, we would have said something like, “You’re crazy – it will never happen!” Unfortunately, I was very wrong on my prediction.
But one prediction that has not changed is the fact that adoption of the Traditional Plan has resulted in an ongoing conflict over the issue of human sexuality. It involves persons who believe God has clearly drawn the boundaries on human sexuality wherein same-sex intimacy is not merely regarded as a sin, but worse, as an abomination! Acceptable sexual experience and expression are strictly limited to one man and one woman living within the holy covenant of marriage!
There are those who disagree with the above, insisting that same-sex intimacy is just as morally legitimate as is the sexual union between a husband and wife. This is based on human reasoning, cultural changes, alleged scientific studies, etc.
There is an appeal that we learn to work together and put our differences aside. I have enclosed a letter recently submitted to the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat. In that I describe a simple illustration of an attempt to mix some motor oil and water. It cannot be done and with that I rest my case concerning the conflict on human sexuality!
For a number of years I had a homosexual person attending one of my churches. His partner was a Roman Catholic and faithfully attended mass at his church. The man was still attending my church regularly when I retired in 1996. I have been at times labeled as homophobic, unchristian, unloving, mean-spirited, hateful, deeply prejudiced, etc. If that is really true and I really am that kind of person due to my choice to agree with God and His view of same-sex intimacy, why did a homosexual keep attending my church for years? Perhaps some of you can explain that to me.
As mentioned in the letter, the shootout at a corral named the United Methodist Church continues unabated!
Clayton D. Harriger, Retired Elder in Full Connection
Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference
The United Methodist Church
The special General Conference of the United Methodist Church concluded recently with the approval of what is known as the Traditional Plan. This means that the restrictive language regarding homosexuality along with procedures for dealing with violations will remain in place in the denomination’s Book of Discipline which contains its church law. No practicing homosexual is to be ordained for ministry in the UMC. No UM pastor is to perform same-sex weddings. No UM church is to be used for same-sex weddings.
There is a marathon of comments and replies, both positive and very negative, taking place presently in social media regarding the outcome of the General Conference held in St. Louis. Somehow I was reminded of an event called the shootout at the O.K. Corral in the latter part of the 19th Century!
The issue can be illustrated rather simply. Take ½ pint of water and ½ pint of motor oil and put them in a clear quart container with a cap. Shake vigorously for a length of time and then set the container down. Eventually you will see a distinct line where one begins and the other ends! An auto technician will tell you that it is not a good thing to have both water and oil in the crankcase of your vehicle!
Meanwhile the shootout at a corral known as the United Methodist Church continues unabated.
Clayton D. Harriger
Western PA Annual Conference
The United Methodist Church