Dear Bishop Ough,
If there is one thing I’ve learned since stepping into leading a local church, it’s that there is a lot about any leadership position that one does not know until they have occupied that seat. With that in mind, I wan to name that I have not occupied the seat in which you sit, and therefore there is a lot I don’t know. I also want to recognize the work you’ve done in leading this conference and the denomination through some of our denomination’s most tumultuous years. I can’t imagine the toll it’s taken on you emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
But with that said, you are in a position now to take a stand that I thought you would take. Perhaps I have been misunderstood but I had the understanding that any complaints brought against a clergy person in the Minnesota Annual Conference regarding the ministry of and with with LGBTQ+ persons would be dismissed. Furthermore, I had the understanding that the spirit of the aspirational vision passed at our 2019 Annual Conference would call you to do so, as would the abeyance of charges outlined in the Protocol plan announced last week.
I am disappointed to hear that a complaint filed against Rev. Jia Starr Brown has not been dismissed in favor of working toward a “just resolution”. The minute the complaint was filed, justice was compromised and harm was done. And with every second that the complaint remains, justice continues to be compromised and the harm increases.
I am but just one clergy person in our conference, but my conscience forbids me from being silent. I therefore I call upon you to dismiss the complaint against Rev. Jia Starr Brown and to condemn the complaint publicly, and do the necessary work to heal the harm that has been done.
Like I said, perhaps I was misunderstood, but I was under the impression that this is what you would do. The 85% margin by which our vision was passed says that 85% of the conference would be with you in doing so and even expects you to do so. We are waiting for you to step into courageous and prophetic leadership here to stop the harm and to begin repairing it.
We are at a point where I can no longer defend this denomination and with this, now this conference. I am ashamed to be a United Methodist, and our witness to the communities to which we are called continues to be harmed by the denomination’s structures continually bowing down to harmful ideologies and doctrine. Before we are called to heal a broken world, we need to do the work of healing the harm done in our own system. Do the right thing, Bishop, and take the stand for justice.
May the grace, peace, and love of Christ abide in and around you. May the Spirit of God guide you. And may the generative nature of our Creator enliven you.
Rev. Paul Baudhuin (He/Him/His) // Pastor, Aldersgate Church // St. Louis Park, MN