Dave Uphoff |
A controversy exists at a local church here in Minonk over policies and
philosophies adopted by the national synod to which the church belongs.
Last week members of St. Paul's United Church of Christ voted on a
measure to clarify the local church's position on marriage between gay
couples. The United Church of Christ is one of the few churches that
has gone on record supporting gay marriages within the church.
Paul members voted 97 to 37 supporting the church's position on
accepting gay marriages. The vote was the latest and perhaps the last
effort of some members of the congregation to have the church rebuke
the concept of gay marriage. The vote has created a split within the
church and its outcome will probably result in the loss of some members.
Paul's joined the United Church of Christ in 1960 having previously
been known as St. Paul's Evangelical and Reformed Church. Over the
years the United Church of Christ has been more liberal in its
philosophy than most other churches. Its liberal policies have resulted
in the loss of some of its member churches over the years including one
in Gridley and one in Metamora.
schism within St. Paul's church is unfortunate but probably
predictible. The origins of the church are based on rural midwest
fundamentals that go back to the 1800's. The church was organized
initially to administer to the large German population in Minonk, most
of whom were farmers. The bible was the foundation of their religion
and was literally interpreted.
joining the United Church of Christ in 1960, the church is tied to an
organization whose philosophy includes adopting new stances on moral
issues facing our nation. Obviously, these new stances do not always
coiincide with the views of many of its members. What plays well in San
Francisco will not always play well in Minonk.
do not want to pass judgment on who is right or wrong in this issue.
Matters of religion is a very emotionally charged issue. It comes down
to a person's interpretation of the Bible which can be a big variable.
The Muslim's interpretation of the Koran varies greatly from our
interpretation of the Bible. And even within the Christian world the
interpretation of the Bible is different. So who is right? The answer
is no one is and everyone is. It is a personal conviction that you must
has been practiced since time began and has been accepted by some
cultures and rebuked by others. It will not disappear. However, I feel
that gay marriages is not a good thing for our culture as it distorts
the concept of family. The family unit of male and female with
offspring is the time honored union that is the glue that holds our
culture together. Any abberation of that union can only weaken our
culture. While I accept the desire for gays to live together, to confer
marital rights the same as heterosexual couples is too much of a
change. If it is a good thing, it would have been adopted thousands of
years ago when humans were forming their cultures.
is unfortunate that a local church has to risk losing its members over
an issue that is provoked by a national organization to which it
belongs. I do not know how or why St. Paul's became affiliated with the
United Church of Christ 46 years ago. Nor do I know if there was a
match between their philosophies at that time. It is apparent that the
philosophies of the national synod have changed more than the local
To those who are
contemplating leaving the church over this issue, consider the rich
heritage of St. Paul's which once had the biggest congregation in
Minonk. Consider the contribution of your parents and grandparents to
the church. Would they leave the church over such an issue or would
they seek other methods to resolve the issue? Is the survival of a
church that shaped your Christian values, united you in holy matrimony,
baptized your children and paid final respects to your loved ones more
important than rebelling against the symbolic doctrine of a national
organization that really has little influence on your daily lives other
than the dues you pay to them each year? Is the gay marriage
controversy the real problem facing the church?
hope the issue can be resolved without any significant loss of members.
The only question I really wonder about is if the 97-37 vote in favor
of gay marriage at St. Paul's reflects the real feelings not only of
St. Paul's but of the entire community.
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