Letter submitted by Taylor Gould to Bishop Julius C. Trimble in response to General Conference, Anna Blaedel’s charges, and general church-sanctioned injustice:
Dear Bishop Trimble,
It breaks my heart to witness the United Methodist Church’s complacency to injustice throughout our ecclesial hierarchy. I knew partially what I was getting into when I answered my call to ministry while at the Wesley Foundation at the University of Iowa, but I am absolutely astonished by the continual allowance of all injustices: from minor harm to life-changing spiritual abuse.
This last spring, I submitted myself to traveling to General Conference. I paid out of my own pocket for housing, travel, and even tuition costs for this trip. I did so because I have a deep and profound love for this denomination, but what I experienced was much different than what I expected. As I witnessed the conversation around LGBTQ+ inclusion unfold, I witnessed verbal violence, met with episcopal detachment. One conversation I witnessed was in the Church and Society Committee B, where a delegate stated very clearly “If we do not beat the gay out of (LGBTQ+ youth), we are not expressing God’s love.” This clearly abusive comment was brushed off by leadership inside and out of that room. Though we were able to witness a select few bishops take their leadership seriously and stand against this injustice at GC, I left desiring so much more from my own bishop.
I have observed your bold witness in the past, and have been proud to call you bishop on other justice matters. Your stance against the injustice of the USA’s immigration system has so greatly warmed my heart and inspired me to be a bold leader. I watched the live updates as you and Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño took part in civil disobedience and were arrested in 2014 because you would not back down from your conviction that all people- even those without the “proper papers” are children of God and are worthy of God’s love. This year, I had the honor of following in your prophetic footsteps and had the opportunity of civil disobedience, followed by my own arrest, for standing against budget injustices in Illinois. I know that such bold witnesses are exactly what the church exists for. I witnessed that leadership from you again at General Conference at the immigration rally, yet I was left desiring more when it came to your standing for my own identity.
Today, like many days the past few months, I sit sobbing for the same church that taught me to witness unhindered by fear. The church that raised me and fostered my call to ministry is the same church that allows people to question that call simply because I am queer. I am watching my friend and mentor, Rev. Anna Blaedel, be torn apart by individuals in this church that have capitalized on the fear-mongering; refusing to see Anna as human, let alone a gifted and loving minister to a space that needs Anna. You have authority in this situation, and I beg you not to idolize man-created rules or your own fears over the God-created love that our church should be centered around.
Bishop, you have been called by God, then elected as bishop by the Church. I know there is a possibility you will move from Iowa in a couple months, but I encourage you to take your call seriously in this time you have left with us to Do No Harm, and fight the spiritual abuse that has been allowed in our denomination for far too long.
Blessings on these next steps forward,
- A Response to Church-Sanctioned Injustice - July 7, 2016
- Garrett-Evangelical seminarians and faculty protest systemic racism - December 8, 2014