Monday, September 26, 2016

A Celebration of Rainbows, Medford’s Diversity, and the Perfection of God’s Creation

A Celebration of Rainbows, Medford’s Diversity, and the Perfection of God’s Creation
The following is an open letter from members of the Medford Interfaith Clergy Association in response to a Letter to the Editor from Pastor Thomas Michael, printed in the Transcript, Thursday, September 15, 2016.  This letter appeared in the September 22 Medford Transcript. 

Dear Mayor Burke and Medford Friends,

We are grateful for the affirmation of Medford’s LGBTQIA citizens represented by the rainbow banner hanging at City Hall. That positive act of support and pride was celebrated by all of us and many members of our congregations. In fact, we hope there will be an even larger rainbow banner next year! Thank you for this witness to our city’s commitment to justice and equality for all.

As seminary trained and denominationally ordained leaders of both Christian and Jewish faith communities in Medford we are compelled to offer an alternative perspective to that represented by Pastor Thomas Michael in his September 15 Letter to the Editor. While his letter presumes to speak for all “all sincere Bible believing Christians” and all “God-fearing taxpayers in Medford” we can assure you that it does not.

We are faith leaders who believe that all of God’s creation is made in God’s image. We affirm the wholeness of LBGTQIA persons and support the caring and loving relationships in which they may be engaged.

We are religious practitioners who are guided by scripture. We each do this in different ways through our varied traditions.  We each, though, have come to a similar conclusion of our support of the full inclusion of LBGTQIA persons in our faith communities and civic life.

Scripture tells us to “love kindness, seek justice and walk humbly with God.” (Micah 6:8). As such, we have learned not to attempt to speak for other representatives of our faith traditions. Together, we reject hate, work for justice and do our best to lead with love.

We pray, during this time of political division and tension in our community over difference and change, that our Medford neighbors know that we are here amongst you, praying and working unceasingly for the welfare of our city and the well-being of all of her people. We are here, loving God and loving you, our neighbors, all of our neighbors. May it be so for all and with all. May God bless you and keep you.

Rev. Dr. Maggie Arnold, Assistant Rector, Grace Episcopal Church
Rev. Gerald Bell, Pastor, Shiloh Baptist Church
Rev. Brenda Bennett, Pastor, Community Baptist Church
Rabbi Braham David, Rabbi, Temple Shalom
Rev. Dr. Dorothy Emerson, Unitarian Universalist
Rev. Noah Evans, Rector, Grace Episcopal Church
Rev. Tony-Jarek Glidden, Pastor, Community Methodist Church
Rev. Thomas Hathaway, Pastor, North Prospect Union Ujnited Church of Christ
Rev. David Kilpatrick, Pastor, West Medford Baptist Church
Rev. Wendy Miller Olapade, Lead Pastor, Sanctuary United Church of Christ
Rev. Lambert Rahming, Community Minister, Sanctuary United Church of Christ
Rev. Matthew Rasure, Pastor, First Baptist Church
Rabbi Talya Weisbard Shalem, Medford Resident and Rabbi