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An Open Letter to Gil Hanke

This might seem like an odd liturgical blog post, but it is what happened today and it does relate to my interpretation of baptismal and eucharistic theology.  So, I figured, why not?

A few weeks ago, the top executives of the General Board of Church and Society (Jim Winkler) and the General Commission on United Methodist Men (Gil Hanke) made statements that welcomed the possibility of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) changing their stance of prohibiting openly gay and bisexual men and boys from being involved in their organization.

For me, the United Methodist Church’s “open table” theology, where everyone is welcome to partake in the Great Thanksgiving (read: communion), should mean that all are welcome fully in our local churches.  So, hearing that two UM agencies were welcoming a change in BSA policy, made me think that perhaps we are moving that much closer to equality and a no-strings attached welcoming of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer United Methodists.

Today, I found out that the United Methodist Men executive committee had changed their mind.  When I was a student at Vanderbilt Divinity School, the United Methodist students had an annual dinner with members of the Boards and Agencies of the UMC that have  their offices in Nashville.  This included the United Methodist Men.  Actually, I sat right next to Gil Hanke during one of those dinners.  It was only his second or third day as the executive of UMM!

Anyways, upon seeing this flipflop from UMM, I remembered the conversation that I had with Mr. Hanke during that dinner.  I decided to send him a letter:

Dear Mr. Hanke,

You probably do not remember me, but I remember meeting you. It was your second or third day on the job as the top executive of the General Commission on United Methodist Men and you attended a dinner for the General Boards and Agencies of the UMC alongside Vanderbilt Divinity School students. We sat next to each other. We shared a meal and had meaningful conversation. I went to your UMM booth and we talked more, I received some information about UMM, and you assured me that the United Methodist Men is a ministry for ALL men. As you did so, it felt like you were staring at my Reconciling Ministries Network lapel pin.

Your words were comforting to me. As someone who serves a local church that does not have an active United Methodist Men chapter (but a very active United Methodist Women chapter), your words told me that it would be fruitful to begin some UMM programming at my church. After reading your recent statement with Jim Winkler on supporting a possible change in the Boy Scouts of America policy, I was encouraged even further.

Those words rang false and empty in the last few days as you, Bishop Swanson, and the executive committee of UMM claimed that you did not support a change in BSA policy anytime in the near future because local churches need more time to think about it. To be honest, I think we have thought enough. Do we really need more time to mull over whether or not our churches should be exclusive? Do we need more time to think about how we treat children and youth who struggling with identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer in a general church that claims they are incompatible? I know I do not need any more time to know that these BSA and UMC policies are unfair and an impediment to how we present and live out the gospel of Jesus Christ. The walls have already been torn down. We know we are all of equal, sacred worth. Yet, for some reason unbeknownst to me, the UMC seems to be rebuilding these walls of exclusion and injustice in perpetuity.

Needless to say, I do not appreciate being told a lie, as I assume you do not either. I hope you write back. I think we could collaborate quite well regarding to ministry to men in particular if we can agree that the church is absolutely for all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

In Christ,

Anthony Fatta

I think a lot of United Methodists are tired of this sort of flip flopping.  As more and more LGBTQ youth commit suicide all over the world, can we United Methodists recognize that their blood is on our hands?

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7 responses to “An Open Letter to Gil Hanke

  1. Deen Thompson ⋅

    Anthony, you make me proud and at the same time humble to be a Reconciling United Methodist who happens to be a Gay Christian.

  2. clergyman mark cordes ⋅

    nicely said Anthony…

  3. Julene Devoe ⋅

    It’s amazing that the people at Los Gatos trust their children to a gay youth minister. They obviously have abandoned their responsibility as parents, but it’s the kids who will pay the price. Do these clueless parents really think having an MDiv means the person is someone who can be trusted? No wonder the mainline churches are in decline. Very sad, the exploitation of the innocent by people who have no concern for religion except to use it as a tool for their political agenda. Vanderbilt has much to answer for, serving as a hatchery of radical feminism and whatever loonyleft movement comes down the pike.

    • Justin ⋅

      Anthony is one of the most amazing Christians I have ever known. If you ever had the chance to meet him in person, he would be nothing but Christ’s hands and feet to you. He loves his youth, and he is committed to them having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and to them loving all of God’s children.

      Anthony, thank you so much for this beautiful blog post. I am proud of you, no matter who tries to tear you down.

  4. Ramon E ⋅

    Is this Anthony person serious when he says that the United Methodists have “blood on their hands” and are responsible for the suicide of LGBTQXYZ youth? Sorry, but I know lots of UMs, including some who are Christians, and I just don’t get the connection. If the UM Men don’t change their Scout policy, millions of kids will be jumping off bridges?
    Honestly, if you people wish to be taken seriously, you’re going to have to come down to reality and stop the melodrama. Responsible for teen suicides? Sheesh, that’s a ridiculous and groundless slander, one that you use to try to browbeat the wimps in the mainline denominations into caving in to your constant whining. Happily, I am an EX UM, but I still hope the UM Men stick to their standards – in other words, man up. Someone in this culture has to take a stand for decency.

  5. Pingback: MFSA » Blog Archive » Core Values: Saving and Shaping Lives

  6. Bob Walter ⋅

    Please provide any scripture that endorses the PROMOTION of homosexuality because that is what you are asking for. As you well know there are myriad scriptures in the Old and New Testaments that condemn it. If you don’t believe the plain language and clear truth of the Bible, why do you want to be in UMC OR UMM unless you intend to subvert it? Or do you have some new revelation for us? I go by the last verse of Revelations that says anyone deliberately changing the language of the scriptures will be punished. Sorry you did not learn that yet.

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