On Wednesday, Aug 31st, Rev. Anna Blaedel was notified by Bishop Julius Trimble that the complaint filed against them after coming out during Annual Conference season has been dismissed. Rev. Blaedel shares the following words in response with all who have supported them:

I am feeling grateful. Yes, to Bishop Trimble, but much, much more so to all who are extending support, solidarity, love, care, prayer, and advocacy to me, and to all the other LGBTQ people out there, and to all who are fighting the good and faithful fight for intersectional justice and liberation from all the intersecting forms of oppression.

I am grateful for all the kin and ecclesia incarnating gospel and love: Fight the power. Join the movement(s). Rise up. Shut it down. Be revolutionary love.

I am grateful for Rev. Tyler Schwaller, who has accompanied me in this process, and who is brilliant and bold and beloved and funny as hell, with whom I can laugh and cry and rage and pray and sing. Whose company I cherish and with whom I feel an unshakable sense of covenant and connection. Blessed be this queer kinship, and collaboration.

I am feeling relieved from the burden of this draining process, and from some though not all of the unknowns and fears it has brought front and center. I am feeling moved and inspired and encouraged by all the people who are paying attention in new ways, speaking up in new ways, leaning into discomfort in new ways, seeking justice in new ways, refusing to acquiesce in new ways.

And…I am feeling complicated feelings of lingering frustration, anger, and fear. The United Methodist Church is still unwilling to acknowledge or account for the harm done to LGBTQ people through discriminatory, damning policies and practices that prohibit and punish us. The status quo remains unacceptable, and folks have been accepting it for far too long, with devastating and cumulative effects. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words continue to call and lure and haunt: “nonviolence direct action seeks to create such a crisis and establish such creative tension that a community that has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored.”

Is The UMC really confronting the issue of it’s own LGBTQ oppression?

Is The UMC really confronting systemic racism? sexism? misogyny? xenophobia?

If you are inclined to answer a resounding “Yes,” then you’re seeing and experiencing things that I’m not.

But. And. I do feel and experience and know a sense of movement and momentum for justice that is manifest in but not contained to seeking queer liberation within The UMC. I encounter the Divine reflected in and through all the gorgeous justice activism and advocacy folk are doing: from the standing rock sioux tribe protesting the pipeline to the movement for black lives collectivities and collaborations to the 30-iowa city community teach-in coming up.

Restorative justice asks: who has been harmed? what should be done, and by whom, to make things right? Please dive deep, and reflect on these questions with me, according to your own contexts and commitments, your own privileges and marginalities. Justice is not yet restored. Not within The UMC, nor within this country, nor within our entangled, endangered planetary life together.

Silent acquiescence to injustice is unfaithful and sinful.

My commitments in this complaint process have been: to tell the truth; to bear witness to the systemic oppression and harm being inflicted on lgbtq people by the policies and practices of The UMC; and to confront the complicity of all who are continuing this harm through ongoing allegiance to these policies and practices.

This work–for me personally, and for us collectively–is nowhere near complete. And, i’ve felt convicted to take every soapbox and spotlight available to remind LGBTQ kin that y’all are beautiful, beloved, holy delight. That anything or anyone that says otherwise is incompatible with christian teaching, and incompatible with all that is good and right and holy and true within any religious tradition’s teachings. And, that justice is always, always, always intersectional, and there can be no queer justice without racial justice without immigration justice without economic justice without gender justice with out ecological justice. Period. The end. Liberation is connective. So is oppression.

So, fight the powers and principalities that wield death and destruction: white supremacy. islamophobia. (trans)misogyny. heterosexism. anti-semitism. nationalism. All the manifestations of xenophobia that are, inherently, incompatible with christian teaching and with justice and with love-in-action.

So, thank you to all y’all who deserve to be named and recognized individually. Today, I am returning to words I wrote for a speech for UI’s rainbow graduation in May, given the day after the #calledout letter was published, right as General Conference was beginning. I need to keep remembering these things.

In case you need to remember, too: You are loved. You are not alone. You can do hard things. We need each other. Follow joy. May it be so.

#CalledOut
#NoMoreCrumbs
#NoJusticeNoPeace
#ItsTime

Rev. Anna Blaedel

Anna is a campus minister, phd student in theology, and queer UM discontent, whose spiritual practices include the sacrament of brunch, sharing silence with strangers and beloveds, waking up before dawn, walking in the woods, and riding the subway.
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