June 7, 2012 by Sarah M
By Maggie Kane
LORING PARK — Leaders from a range of religious traditions met Thursday morning to launch the Clergy United for All Families initiative at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church.
“We are standing here today against the marriage-denying amendment,” said the Rev. Grant Stevensen, Faith Director of Minnesota United for All Families and a pastor at St. Matthew’s Spirit of Truth, referring to the so-called marriage amendment on the ballot in November. If approved, it would change the state constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman only.
More than one hundred religious leaders attended, representing faith traditions from Roman Catholic to Quaker to Jewish.
“Our religious traditions are based upon love,” said the Rev. Bruce Robbins, senior pastor of Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church. “There is no place within these traditions for discrimination against people.”
Rabbi Melissa Simon speaks while the Revs. Grant Stevensen, Bruce Robbins and Kelly Chatman listen with other attendees.
The religious leaders spoke of their opposition to the marriage amendment in the context of their faith. Rabbi Melissa Simon of Shir Tikvah, who took a stand against the amendment with the Minnesota Rabbinical Association last winter, said her position “reflects on key Jewish values.”
The Rev. Kelly Chatman of Redeemer Lutheran Church of Minneapolis said love, in his faith, extends to all people.
“It is out of my faith that I speak to this; it’s not in spite of my faith,” Chatman said.
Some in attendance had personal connections to the issue. The Rev. Robyn Provis of Metropolitan Community Church married her wife in Toronto, a union the state of Minnesota does not recognize.
“It’s incomprehensible to me that I’m married if I drive four hours north and I’m married if I drive three hours south,” Provis said, referring to the marriage laws in Canada and Iowa.
Despite their united opposition to the amendment, the clergy members said they couldn’t speak for every person within their congregations, some of whom support the proposition.
“Our congregations very much reflect the state of Minnesota,” Stevensen said.
Simon said the clergies’ role is to help their congregations struggle through the issue and to be supportive.
Robbins said he has done this at Hennepin Church by holding group meetings over the past eight to nine months that look at the issue through the lens of the scripture, in addition to tradition, reason and experience.
“We are hoping to be in holy conversation where we are respectful of one another,” Robbins said.
Stevenson said they have taken a stand not because they chose to, but because the legislature’s decisions forced them to. Currently, 89 faith groups have joined the Minnesota United for All Families coalition. Not all of the congregations represented at the meeting have officially joined.