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
The wallpaper border in my office says *HOPE*LOVE*FAITH*. These words remind me daily about what’s important. When I’m stressing about meeting a deadline, worrying about my sick dog, wondering how to clean clutter from my desk, or just hoping that my grandchild is born healthy, then I glance up from my chair and read these three words. Hope reminds me that tomorrow is another day of blessings to come. Love reminds me that my life is filled with people who love me and whom I love. Faith reminds me that God is with me always. Lucky me!
I’ve written about my office window before, but one day in December window watching turned out to be extra exciting. Four deer made their way out of the woods by the church parking lot. Usually the deer only poke their heads out, but on this day they sauntered out to the grass. They were probably looking for the corn and apples I sometimes give them when it snows. Last year I was greeted by a small deer as I parked my car in the morning. That made me think that perhaps I was spoiling the deer too much, but it gave me pleasure to help this lovely animal and to give him nourishment during the winter.
In this Christmas season of giving, we must remember that we humans reside in a beautiful world with other creatures. God made us trustee, and we must make sure that we give gifts to our non-human friends this Christmas too. After all, Jesus was not alone in that stable! So on Christmas Eve I’m putting out some gifts for the deer and the birds at church, and I’m sending a check to the Kent Animal Shelter for the dogs and cats who don’t have a home yet. Merry Christmas to All!
I was asked to share what it means to be able to support our church through the giving of my money, time and service to our ministries.
Throughout the 25 + years that I have been a member of the UMC in Stow, I have come to realize that this congregation is my family, and in a family, everyone contributes what they can, and supports one another in whatever ways possible- through the good, the bad, and yes, sometimes even the ugly.
I give of my money because I strongly believe in the mission of the church- to grow in personal relationship with God, to nurture one another in faith, and to share God’s love with others, so that they may have a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Without financial support to pay the ministry team and the basic bills, this church could not exist and its mission would be lost.
In the past 25 years, I have given of my time and talents in a myriad of ways. I have served as a Sunday School teacher, Kid’s church volunteer, nursery worker, VBS station leader, Bible study facilitator, church sign changer, and member of UMW. I have been blessed to serve in our church mission of the UMC Preschool. I have organized many different community outreach collections, such as pillows, stuffed animals, books, and pajamas, for those in need. I support our food pantry with regular donations. I have volunteered to help organize or assist in special events, such as the Hanging of the Greens Christmas Party, special Sunday school events, and countless bake sales.
Why do I do all of this? Because I feel that if I am able to make a positive impact on someone, make someone’s day just a little brighter by what I may say or do, share the love of Jesus, even with just one person, within our congregation or in the community, then I am doing what God commanded me to do.
In the Bible, Jesus shared as the most important commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31
I give in many different ways and support our church family as an expression of LOVE for each of YOU, and for those in our community and in the world whom we are called by God, as believers, to serve.
I am convinced that it’s all about caring for one another and LOVE, my dear friends…. Giving and serving in God’s precious LOVE!
Written by a member of the United Methodist Church in Stow
I love autumn. I have always loved autumn. I love the changing colors. I love the warm days and crisp evenings. And I love, love, LOVE the smell of fallen leaves. My family will tell you that I mention how much I love that smell multiple times on every fall hike we take. I used to wonder why I liked that scent so much. I does not bring any specific memories to mind (other than remembering how much I love that smell). I does create a sense of calm in me, however, and the sense that I belong there, in the woods, out in nature.
I have come to understand that this feeling of belonging is simply a connection to God. Many of the Bible writers testified to the ability of nature to reveal God to us. Here are a couple examples:
Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made.
“But ask the animals, and they will teach you;
the birds of the air, and they will tell you;
ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you;
and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
Who among all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
For whatever reason, it is the smell of fallen leaves that sparks that divine connection for me. As I walk, breathing in the smells of autumn, I feel loved, cared-for and content.
Is there a part of nature, scent or otherwise, that reveals God to you?
It seems that every morning there is some horrible news I wake up to. Whether it is the destruction from natural disasters that occur world wide or the ones that are inflicted at the hands of humans, it is hard to not ask “why?” Why do these things happen in nature? How can other humans be so cruel and inhuman? What can I, as one person, do to help? There are no easy answers and some questions have no answers. I do know one thing, God is in charge. I was reminded of His promise at work the other day. As I walked to room 200, I noticed a rainbow on the floor. It was just what I needed. It guided my path on my many trips back and forth. As it faded throughout the day, my faith grew stronger. I knew that although the rainbow was no longer visible, it’s meaning still was. We all have our storms and suffering to get through. Ours might seem small to the ones happening around us, but to God they are important and knowing He is with us might ease the pain.