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To the Congregation of the United Methodist Church in Stow

To the Congregation of the United Methodist Church in Stow

I want to take some time to talk about General Conference. I imagine many of you have heard about the results of General Conference and if you are like me your heart is grieved.  The result was to maintain the hurtful language and policy about the church’s relationship with the LGBTQI community but in addition to preserving a policy of only partial rights for those members in the church, specifically that they have no right to marry or be ordained, the actions also support increased penalties for clergy and bishops who don’t conform to the policy.

This is a step backwards at a time when we had hoped to step forward as a denomination.  When I got the news of the conference’s result I was distraught and ashamed, and honestly my first reaction was to submit my request for retirement because I felt like I just couldn’t be part of this denomination any more.

But then I got a call and then an email from my daughter, who, even more than me, is effected by this decision.  She sent the email to four clergy who after the vote texted her with tears and apologies.  I believe her wise voice speaks better to us today than my words ever could.  While excerpts of this email was written to a handful of clergy I hope you can hear her speaking to you.

 

So, on this night after the General Conference vote, I really feel God telling me to share what is on my mind with you. I know you are all mad and fed up and may even be feeling done with the UMC. I don’t disagree that this is a big problem and that it is very hurtful. I’ve married Liz twice now and neither time could I marry her in the church I have been devoted to for 32 years. That stings. 

I can’t get this thought out of my head. If I had no motherly Reverend connections to the United Methodist Church, no history with the Methodist Church and I walked into you churches, not knowing you at all, feeling scared, feeling lost and I LISTENED to YOU and I was WELCOMED by YOU, WOW would I feel safe. WOW would I feel accepted.  

Ignorance is best beat by education. And if we create churches and congregations that are open, welcoming and loving to people of all walks of life, and we make those people feel safe inside our walls, don’t we ultimately win? And you are all already doing that. I think that is more meaningful than anything else. Our denomination is failing miserably right now, it will one day be an embarrassing part of our history but it will be history. But I can’t help but think and be more scared about our future if we lose you within our churches 

If we jump then the people that are pushing us get the final say. And none of you are the type to let that happen. If we jump off the ship then the opposition gets exactly what they want.  

So here is your “come to Jesus” moment brought to you by a P.K. We don’t know when we will get through this particular obstacle but we will. And for God’s sake, will you all STOP beating yourselves up for this particular vote in this particular year, please!  You are examples of why the opposing side should be fearful because you are the people who stand up and speak of truth, and love, and acceptance and all of the things the opposing side fears. Through your power and your love, others will love. So stop apologizing and simply do not give up! I know I am not incompatible with the teachings of Jesus Christ, I know that I am loved by God, I know I am worthy of God’s love, in fact, tonight I feel stronger in my faith than I have in a long time.  This vote failing is not your fault, it is the fault of the people who voted against accepting and loving all others. And those are the people that will have to face God one day and explain why they fought against His teachings and His lessons. 

A retired clergyman posted on Facebook this afternoon essentially how ashamed and angry he was that the denomination he gave his service to for so many years did this. He right there on social media jumped off the ship and proclaimed that as of Sunday he was going to the UCC now. That honestly angered me more than the vote failing did. He gave in right then and there and gave the opposition exactly what they want, one less voice.  Earlier, I ALMOST said, “it was my denomination that failed me….” but then I stopped and thought about it for another minute. And it’s not. A lot of people agree with us, a lot of people believe in a better future in our denomination that includes so many more. A lot of people were hurt, saddened and frustrated by today’s vote. We aren’t alone. We just didn’t have the most votes this time around. It doesn’t mean we never will, but we didn’t today.   

As long as I have leadership inside my church who accept me, who love me, who support me, who do all of those things for my family (especially my children) then I will not give up, I will continue to show up regardless of what some people vote on. The denomination does not get to tell me if I am worthy of God’s love just because I am a big ol’ butch lezbo, I already know my answer because Jesus gave me my answer and I learned that through strong leaders like you who I get the privilege and the blessing of having in my life.  

I think we are stronger together. I think we all are in each other’s lives for a reason. I know you all feel raw right now and tired right now and it’s hard to have hope right now but we can’t lose sight of that. We may have some people that are causing us to wander through the desert instead of simply listening to God’s direction but that doesn’t mean we won’t eventually get to where we are meant to be. 

Finally, good night! Tomorrow is a new day! 

 

The decision of General Conference is not final.  It now goes to the Judicial Council, which is like our version of the Supreme Court.  There are questions about the constitutionality of the Conference’s decision and it’s possible that it may be struck down.  Even so the language is maintained until the next General Conference, where it will again be brought up for change.  And if it doesn’t happen then it will be brought up at the following General Conference.  I will continue to be a part of this denomination because I have work to do.

 

written March 1, 2019, shared in worship March 3, 2019

Holy Haven

Holy Haven

Like many families we gathered for the unofficial last day of summer on Labor Day.  After praying for those who labor for our country, their physical hardships, and their needs, we went to play.  Going to the Lake during the summer is a haven for our family and watching my daughter take her boys tubing, as I did with her many years ago, is such a joy.  At our haven we spend hours laughing, swimming, eating, and sometimes we just sit quietly and watch the sun play on the water.  We all need a haven—a place of escape from our busyness—a place to just “be.”  We need such times and such places to live a healthy life.

Even Jesus needed to get away from time to time.  He would steel away from the crowds, from the busyness, from the demands of daily life to find some peace, to reflect, and to pray.  I often picture him beside the lake watching the sun dance on the water, or in the hills feeling a refreshing breeze.  At such places we are on holy ground and we are blessed.

Packing and Unpacking

Packing and Unpacking

I’ve been packing and unpacking a lot during the last several months for trips long and short as well as purposeful and fun. In July I jokingly said to my husband, “I’ve been dealing with a lot of baggage lately.” To which he gave me “that look.”

We often talk about the baggage we carry in life from various life experiences, some of our own making and some hoisted upon us by others. With growing wisdom and faith we learn to deal with that baggage because we all know that baggage weighs us down!

I always thought that dealing with my personal baggage was my burden and I had to work it out on my own. But faith has taught me that God not only cares about our baggage but God will also carry it if we are willing to give it up.

Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11: 29

How do others see Christ in us?

How do others see Christ in us?

As we returned from our Mission Trip with the Nehemiah Mission in Cleveland, our team was asked to share the answer to this question:  Where did you see Christ?  I was touched by the answers of the youth and adults and they made me think of the various situations in which we found ourselves as well as the people we encountered.

One young woman talked about a family we met while painting their house.  They had had so many serious set-backs, yet laughed and spoke with joy, and that amazed our team member and made her think about how she would react to disappointments in her life.

Another member of the team saw Christ in another team we met at the mission from Mount Vernon and how they welcomed us into their fellowship even though we were strangers to them.

I saw Christ in the people we served.  They were, unsurprisingly, appreciative.  But what really stood out was their generosity.  So often those who have the least are the most generous!  The lady we helped obviously didn’t have a lot, yet she surprised us with watermelon and cantaloupe on the hottest day of our painting project.  It was delicious and so very humbling.  We came to give to her, but she gave to us—not only the fruit that she shared but also the love that she shared.  I saw Christ in her.  How do others see Christ in us?

Because you have made the LORD your refuge, the Most High your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, no scourge come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.  On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.                                                                                                  From Psalm 92

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