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GC1: Lament

To my fellow United Methodists,

 

General Conference was more than two months ago, and I've been struggling with what to say about it. I didn't want to write out of hurt or anger. I didn't want to say something I'd regret, which can happen in family arguments. I hoped I'd have a clearer perspective as time passed.

But I'm still hurt and angry – and bewildered. Because some in my church have targeted people I love. And they've targeted me.

 

I performed the wedding for my youngest daughter in 2016. I disobeyed the Discipline on this one matter because she's my daughter, and she's a United Methodist. Before performing the ceremony, I informed the bishop and the leaders of my congregation. While everyone did not agree with my decision, we continued to do ministry together. When I was brought up on charges, and went through a just resolution, I kept the contents of the resolution confidential, as I'd promised.    

Now, some of my colleagues, with whom I've done ministry for more than 35 years, want me to leave. If I perform another gay wedding, they will strip me of my orders.  They will take down from the wall of my office the ordination certificate signed by Bishop Edsel A. Ammons that has hung there since 1984.

 

It doesn't seem to matter to these colleagues that I've honored their work, praised their successes, and refused to speak evil of them, as John Wesley commanded. It doesn't seem to matter to my colleagues in Liberia, whose photo sat beside my desk every day, for whom I prayed during worship every week, for whom I raised money to dig wells, start clinics, and support schools.  


They want me to leave. Because, on this one thing, I disagree.

 

It seems to me that across the spectrum of belief, United Methodists are doing what the apostle Paul said the body of Christ should not do: "The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I have no need of you,' nor again the head to the feet, 'I have no need of you.'" (1 Corinthians 12:21)

 

We are dishonoring each other. And it is breaking my heart.

 

The prouder you are to be a United Methodist, the deeper it cuts. The more you believe in our shared mission, the more you value the genius of our founder who combined vital piety and social holiness, the more it hurts.

Theologically diverse congregations, like the one I served in South Lyon, who worked hard to stay together – praying, studying, worshiping, and serving alongside people with whom they disagreed – will be hardest hit.

 

I don't know what to pray for.  

My husband suggested I pray the psalms of lament. In Psalm 3, it says, "O Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me!" Or Psalm 13: "How long, O Lord? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?" At the end, the psalmist says, "But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation."  

Help us, Lord.

 

Should I leave my church? Or stay and disobey? Should I continue to support missions in Africa? Those are questions for another day.

 

All I can do now is grieve. And pray.

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