The following is a letter that I sent to Dean Jan Love of Candler School of Theology regarding a Distinguished Alumni Award that will be given to the Rev. Eddie Fox of Tennessee on September 27th. The Rev. Fox has been an outspoken opponent of the inclusion of homosexuals in the United Methodist Church.
I am writing to you as a concerned member of the Candler community, a future alumna of Candler School of Theology, and as an ally of the children of God who identify as LGBTQ . I am saddened and disappointed to learn that a Distinguished Alumni Award will be given to the Rev. Eddie Fox, an individual who has chosen to stand against the inclusion of homosexuals in the United Methodist Church. The decision by our institution to honor an individual who has been so vocal, and instrumental, in keeping those who have been marginalized away from the Church sends a disgraceful message of unwelcome to our past, present, and future students who identify as LGBTQ.
Dean Love, I ask that you and the board members responsible for this decision will consider, in addition to the above, the following:
For Candler students who will someday engage in parish ministry, how will this type of association reflect upon us as ministers of the Gospel to our congregations; congregations that will most surely include dear ones who have been turned away from the Lord's Table because of their sexuality?
How will honoring Rev. Fox be perceived by future students who are considering Candler School of Theology?
Will Candler choose to honor someone who stands so defiantly against the inclusion of ALL God's CHILDREN in the body of Christ?
I came to Candler because I believed that I would receive not only an excellent theological education, but because I believed that I would be part of a community that was working to repair the tears that have occurred in the fabric of Church. By honoring the Rev. Fox as a distinguished alumni of Candler School of Theology we are not drawing the circle wider. We are not working to repair the negative image earned by the Church so widely held in today's society. We are not opening hearts, minds, or doors. We are, once again, caving to pressure from those loudest of voices that perpetuate fear and exclusion.
Thank you for taking the time to read this communication. It is my hope that you, and those responsible for this decision, will choose to deliver the message of radical welcome that was exhibited by our Lord, and Savior, Jesus Christ by rescinding your decision to bestow this award.
Karen Stephenson Slappey