The Presidential Inaugural Committee has invited a moderate Methodist minister to deliver the sermon and the inaugural's National Prayer Service Tuesday, January 22.
The Committee announced Friday (January 18) that it has invited Rev. Adam Hamilton, senior pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, to deliver the sermon, which will be attended by President Obama and many of the nation's leaders at Washington's National Cathedral.
Last May, at the United Methodist General Conference held in Tampa, Florida, Hamilton co-authored a motion to soften the denomination's position that homosexuality is "incompatible with Christian teaching." Hamilton's motion would have put the church on record as saying, "We commit to disagree and respect with love, we commit to love all persons and, above all, we pledge to seek God's will. With regard to homosexuality, as with so many other issues, United Methodists adopt the attitude of John Wesley who once said, 'Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may.'" The motion was defeated.
In answer to a question in 2009 about his views of homosexuality, Hamilton said his views have evolved over the years and have been "most affected" by counseling more than a dozen young people who have grown up in his church and come out as gay.
"I love these children (now young adults) and as I listen to their stories, and the way they've been treated by other Christians, I find myself being very protective of them," said Hamilton, according to a blog post at jeremydscott.com . "Likewise, in a congregation of 16,000 people, if we're reaching a representative sample of the community, 5% of these - roughly 800 people - are gay or lesbian. And I feel a great compassion and care for those in my flock that I know who are gay. So, both in my theological reflection about the nature of God, the nature of scripture and the nature of love, and in my personal experience with children and youth I care about in my flock, I find my views moderating on this issue."
"I've tried to navigate a third way that says that we at Church of the Resurrection will agree to disagree about this issue - we've got folks on both sides. But we will continue to try to learn, grow and understand more clearly both the issue of homosexuality and how God looks at his children who are gay. And we will be a place where no one's children are turned away, or wounded by our church," said Hamilton, according to the 2009 post.
The Washington National Cathedral, which has hosted the National Prayer Service at inaugurals since Franklin Roosevelt's first inauguration in 1933, made news earlier this month when it announced it would begin allowing same-sex couples who are affiliated with the church to hold their marriage ceremonies at the historic landmark. The Cathedral is affiliated with the Episcopal Church. The General Convention of the Episcopal Church voted last August to allow the bishop of each diocese to decide whether to allow the celebration of same-sex marriages. The Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of Washington National Cathedral, has announced January 9 that, effective immediately, same-sex weddings may be celebrated at the Cathedral.
And the Presidential Inauguration Committee has invited the Episcopal pastor of a church near the White House that the Obama family attends to deliver the benediction at the inaugural ceremony Monday.
Rev. Luis Leon, who press reports indicates is a "gay-affirming" clergyman at Saint John's Church which also celebrates marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples, will deliver the benediction. He replaces Atlanta pastor Louie Giglio who withdrew from the ceremony after criticism surfaced about remarks he made in a sermon in the 1990s, calling homosexualiy "probably the greatest addiction" and saying that marriage between same-sex partners is "absolutely undermining the whole order of our society."
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