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April 28, 2017

To our beloved Iliff community,

I have just said goodnight to a group of students who Marilyn and I have hosted for dinner at our home. We spent a great deal of the evening processing the decision of the Judicial Council of the United Methodist Church regarding Bishop Karen Oliveto and the implications for those who identify in the LGBT community who seek ordination or a sense of full acceptance in the United Methodist Church. I am in grief tonight. I grieve because this declaration continues to exclude persons with powerful gifts for ministry. I grieve because any time the Church excludes a person or a group, it violates the core message of Jesus who commanded us to behold thy neighbor with love. When the Church says we love and welcome you and yet deny you the full access to serve according to your calling from God, it falls short of its love claim. Some may dismiss anyone who resists today’s declaration as being unfaithful. It is my hope that holding tension with this declaration, remaining uncomfortable with it, is an act of loving the Church enough to hold it accountable to the commandment to love. Because we are a community, we are all impacted. But let us be particularly mindful that some of our community will be impacted by being denied the full expression of their God-given calling. Tonight and in the days to come, let us hold each other in the light of grace that never discriminates. May we be the inclusive community that continues to affirm the gifts of ministry in all persons. May we love each other in a spirit that illuminates the Church that is yet to be. I continue to hold our beloved Bishop and her wife Robin in my prayers. I hold all of you in my prayers. I pray that Iliff will live fully into its calling to bear witness to human pain and live into the promise of what is yet to be. We will continue to be about our work.

Blessings,

Tom Wolfe