The dancing did not return today. The tears flowed. They welled up in my eyes and streamed down my face as the harm we have done to one another, the hurt we have caused to one another, settled in. The tears fell hardest because sadly we’ve done it all in the name of Jesus.
I treasure my fellow travelers on my faith journey. I am blessed that those partners, mentors and teachers have been of every background, theological persuasion, educational level, size, shape and ability level. What I have learned from each person has made me who I am; for that I am eternally grateful.
I can’t imagine now being “church” without any one of those people. Yet that is where I find myself tonight. The words are hard to come after this last long, emotional day in St. Louis at the Called UMC General Conference. The actions of the day leave me with more tears than words to express how I’m feeling right now. Other people who were in the same space for the last four days are rejoicing. I weep.
The church that has been a vital part of my father’s side of the family for generations will be different from this point forward.
The church that baptized me and asked not just my parents but the entire congregation to raise me in the faith will forever be different.
The church that taught me what it means to be United Methodist and confirmed me in the faith will never be the same.
The church that held my wedding, buried my family members, and nurtured me through so many challenges, will forever now be known as one that tried to have open hearts, minds, and doors but chose this day to close them.
The church that I love will be different from this point forward because a vote was passed that enforces stricter punishments and offers “gracious exits’ for those who decide the true Gospel message is love: God’s unconditional love for everyone born.
It’s not unusual as it has happened a number of times in our Methodist and Brethren predecessor denominations. From the role of bishops and laity to women in leadership and racial segregation, our history is not pretty. We’ve separated people out, said they were not worthy of God’s love, told them that Jesus loved everybody – just not them. Today we did it again with a decision that causes great harm to people I love.
Tonight, I’ll cry. I’ll cry for the young adult that I have watched grow up in the church who sent me a Facebook Messenger text today that read, “I can trust love. I just can’t trust the people of the church.”
Tonight, I’ll cry for the grandparent who sent a letter weeks ago noting that their daughter and son-in-law would not have their child baptized in the United Methodist church because they didn’t want that child to grow up recognizing they were gay and be unloved by the church.
Tonight, I’ll cry for the young clergy in our denomination who now wonder where they need to live out their calling, for the LGBTQ+ clergy and church members who have been such an important part of my life and now have been even more harmed by The UMC, and for all those who see us as hypocrites who say we believe one thing and show something totally different through our actions.
Tonight, I’ll cry because I could not help the church I love understand that God calls us to love everybody.