THE "FIRST CHURCH" oF THE SrvrrutH Eptscopnl SeRvrrrrc Cnntsr AND THE CollrquruIw Srrucr


13 uoRRrs STREET


CnRRLrsroru, SourH Cnnour,tR 29403-6108


The Right Reverend Preston W. Williams, II, Presiding Bishop The Reverend Juenarrl Keith, Presiding Elder The Reverend Joseph A. Darby, Senior pastor

Tnr CIrncY


May 1 1, 2012

Rev. Rita V. Bass Rev. Elise M. Gatewood Rev. William Kinlaw Rev. Anya M. Leveille Rev. Thomas M. Nesbitt Rev. Angelo Weathers

To the members of the Morris Brown AME Church family,

Greetings in the Name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This past week, President Barack Obama endorsed same sex marriage. That endorsement has led me to offer a few prayerful pastoral thoughts to you.
Those thoughts begin with the reality that the African Methodist Episcopal Church does not endorse same sex marriage because there is no Scriptural support for same sex marriage. My ordination can be revoked if I perform a same sex marriage or allow the church to be used for a same sex wedding.

Mr. Richard Brewer, Jr. Mr. Charles Adams, Sr. Mr. Victor Owens Co -Cha i rpe rso n s Pro Te m The Board of Stewards
Mr. Steven Capers Ms. Kim A. Jackson Mr. Julius Scott Co -Ch a i rpe rso ns Pro Te m The Board of Trustees Mr. Charlie Shedrick

The positive law of the AME Church also, however, says:

. . .

that clergy should not perform weddings for those who are "unequally yoked with unbelievers" or marry church members without obtaining the consent of their parents.

that clergy who remarry while their spouses are living shall be expelled from the Church. That divorced lay members can only remarry when documentation of their legal divorce is filed with their Quarterly Conference.

Mr. lames H. Brown Treasurer Emeritus Ms. Deborah G. Jackson Financial Secretary Mrs. Leona Middleton Church Clerk Ms. Rachel C. Pitt Worship Coordinator Ms. Delores B, Jones Christia n Education Director Ms. Helen Gilyard Office Manager

Those three stipulations are a part of our positive law, but as time has passed, they've been less than vigorously enforced.
My thoughts are tempered by my awareness that not every citizen of the United States
of America embraces my Theology, that all Christians don't agree on matters of faith and

order and that the United States of America is not a Theocracy, but a representative democracy that:

. . .

embraces ', liberty and the pursuit of happiness" in our Declaration of
lndependence, operates at its best on the principle of equaljustice under the law, and, Constitutionally mandates the separation of church and state.

Office:843-723-I96L Pastor's Cell:843-8t4-8764 Fax:843-723-632O Parsonage: 843-766-4893 E-Mail;

President Obama did not "dictate" how people of faith should define marriage. He's not "Reverend" or "Rabbi" or "lmam" Obama, but "President" Obama who is bound by virtue of his office to pursue civil rights and equal justice under the law for all citizens.
My thoughts are also a result of my pastoralexperience. I embrace the AME Church's belief in the sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for salvation. I've also, however, seen church members struggle life's often difficult realities. l've always had and still have colleagues and congregants labeled as "homosexual" who have played critical and bengficial roles in the church as committed Christians but have understandably shied away from discussions of gender for fear of ridicule or condemnation. I've counseled women who've been brutally abused by husbands who used Scriptural admonitions

about"rulingtheirwives"tojustifytheirbrutality. l'vecounseledmemberswho'vefalleninloveafter divorce but hesitate to remarry out of fear that doing so would be sinful. l've counseled those with
addictive behaviors who fear that their present struggles and past shortcomings prohibit their being active and productive members of the church. My pastoral and personal experience have led me to appreciate our human frailty which led God to sacrifice His only Son so that we could attairfsalvation - not because of who we are and what -do. lt's also worth remembering what God's Son we do, but in spite of who we are and what we said to a very religious person who wanted to test Him and asked Him what was the greatest of God's mandates. Jesus said that God's greatest mandates are that we love God with every fiber of our being and love others as we love ourselves.
My experience as a Christian, as a pastor and as a citizen leads me to respectfully suggest three

things for your prayerful consideration:

. .

That our President, like each one of us, is a flawed human being who struggles with difficult choices, That our President is an elected officialwhose responsibility is not to set forth principles of faith and order but to champion the civil and human rights of all citizens, and,

That while the church cannot endorse candidates, we should consider our respective choices for President and every other elected office not on the basis of any single issue, but on the broad range of issues critical to our well being and on the basis of what's good, fair and beneficial for all citizens - regardless of their faith or lack thereof.

As Christians, we should affirm and stand by o,ur beliefs. As citizens, we should pray for our President and pray that America will really become " nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all."
May God's
, power and prosperity be with you.

Reverend Joseph A. Darby

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