Bishop Cho issues statement on Supreme Court decision
On Monday, Oct. 6, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would not hear appeals from the 4th, 7th and 10th U.S. Circuit Courts that sought to keep bans on same-sex marriage in place. The ruling immediately ended court-imposed delays on same-sex marriage in Virginia and four other states. At 1 p.m. on Oct. 6, same-sex marriages became legal in Virginia. On Tuesday, Oct. 7, Bishop Young Jin Cho sent a letter to pastors and congregations in the Virginia Conference, reminding them that even though the law has changed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, The United Methodist Church does not allow clergy to conduct same-sex wedding services.
"When I was elected and consecrated a bishop, I took an oath to uphold The Book of Discipline of our church," Bishop Cho wrote, "and this I will do with regard to this issue as with other issues. I am aware that this statement will bring pain and hurt to those who want a change in the language in the Book of Discipline. I also understand the challenges we will face in providing pastoral care to every person."
Read Bishop Cho's complete letter below:
Dear Friends in Christ,
May the grace and peace from our risen Lord be with you.
On October 6, the Supreme Court of the United States turned away appeals from five states seeking to prohibit same-sex marriages. Virginia was one of these states. As a result, same sex marriages are now legal in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The issue of same-sex marriage has been and will continue to be a matter of discussion within The United Methodist Church.
We, The United Methodist Church, welcome every person regardless of sexual orientation, but we do not condone the practice of homosexuality. All clergy are not allowed to celebrate homosexual unions or to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies. Although the situation in Virginia has been changed by the court decision, The United Methodist Church has not changed its position on this issue.
When I was elected and consecrated a bishop, I took an oath to uphold The Book of Discipline of our church, and this I will do with regard to this issue as with other issues. I am aware that this statement will bring pain and hurt to those who want a change in the language in the Book of Discipline. I also understand the challenges we will face in providing pastoral care to every person.
Because of the seriousness of this issue, I proposed that Common Table organize a conference-wide conversation on human sexuality; this will be held on November 22. I invite you to join me in praying that this gathering will be a time of listening, sharing and growing together in Christ. This is the time to pray and humbly seek the guidance of our Good Shepherd. We need to open ourselves and listen to the owner of The United Methodist Church, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Let us pray for each other, although we may have different opinions. I am deeply grateful to all clergy and laity who are wrestling with this challenging situation, and all our churches will continue to be in my prayers. I would like to share Bobby Richardson's prayer one more time: "Dear God, your will. Nothing more, nothing less and nothing else. Amen."
In our Lord,
Young Jin Cho