Most people eventually got into the basement of Peace UMC of Kaukauna, Wisconsin. If you were stuck outside because there wasn’t enough space following lunch, it wasn’t too bad. I was the first person not to be let in for jury selection. The crew outside brought out lawn chairs and an awning for the lawn. Others handed out caramel corn and chocolate chip cookies.
The afternoon was overcast but the rain left us alone. We shared stories and kept updated by smart phones on the inside goings on. This was the result of poor planning. Though warned, the annual conference team refused to provide adequate space for the trial leading to this separation of insiders and outsiders—a tangible representation of the trial in process. There were other larger spaces in churches to use in Wisconsin. The sanctuary at Peace UMC was large enough to hold everybody. But the annual conference chose inhospitality, again.
Once back inside the basement, the process was, as described by Jimmy Creech, “In a church called…Peace…the church was going on as if this had some propriety. It did not. It is an act of violence.” Jimmy closed our day preaching in a nearby park pavilion naming the truth that “We are here tonight because The United Methodist Church is saying we must do harm to our neighbor.”
Amy has been a good neighbor and a good shepherd. To reduce any person, and especially a person committed to being whole as God longs for all of us, from “being” to “practice” is violence. No propriety there. I agree Jimmy.
Prior to RMN, Troy served for 13 years on the pastoral staff of Bering Memorial United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas. He directed Bering’s on-site counseling center for those affected by HIV/AIDS. Outside Bering’s sanctuary in 1999, he performed a “street wedding” for a lesbian couple celebrating 25 years together and facilitated Bering’s equal treatment of all couples policy. He also coordinated Bible Study, mission trips, retreats, and nonviolence training. Facing a bomb threat with 50 other couples, Troy and Walter, shared promises and rings on Freedom To Marry Day, February 12, 2003 for their 5th anniversary.