I didn’t plan on attending the 2019 RMN Convocation. I felt lonely and isolated following the 2019 General Conference. As a queer Methodist in the Midwest, I was acutely aware of the tension and pain of our denominational shift. I went into General Conference with a hopeful heart and a belief that the church that raised me would claim me as their own and finally encourage my call to ministry. As our global denomination returned home following the vote, I was left feeling empty, devastated, and alone.
I didn’t really want anything to do with the larger Methodist Connection—my affirming home church was enough for me, thank you very much. But then, God stepped in. Shortly before Convo I was asked to provide supervision and activities to the children who were in attendance. I showed up on the first day with a backpack full of supplies and a chip on my shoulder. I was determined to help but to protect my heart and keep my distance.
While I expected to remain in a place of hurt and anger, my experience at Convocation melted my hardened heart and reminded me that I am not in this alone. I was thrust into the arms of a community that was in the struggle with me. There was solidarity in my pain, but also a shared passion, joy, and commitment to just and inclusion that reminded me that I belonged. My heart was warmed by the fire of chosen family and the companionship of people of faith who are fierce advocates for justice. The love in the room broke me open and allowed my healing to begin.
There was something special about gathering in the same space. The joy of getting to see someone’s posture and gestures. To feel the energy and emotions of another person in our bodies the way we only can when we are together. To really make a new friend, not just enjoy greeting one another through the chat box.
At Convocation, I saw in the faces and words of the children the future of my Church. I experienced their hope and trust. I witnessed firsthand the kind of hospitality that can lead us forward. And, my friends, it gives me hope. The children ended their Convocation experience by writing letters of affirmation to bishops across the connection. They asked for love and acceptance. They asked for us to do better. And, church, I believe we can.
We are in the struggle, but there is hope. We need fire for the fight and strength for the journey. It is vital for us to connect, to lean on one another, and to celebrate God’s beloved creatures together. We must stand for and with one another, welcoming the spirit of transformation to move amongst us and refill us for the continuing journey.
Join us at Convocation. There are virtual options, but there is something divine and magical that happens when we are in the room together. Convocation is much more than just the sessions you can follow along with from home. It’s also the space and breath between. It’s those hallway conversations and spontaneous moments of connection. It’s the chance to come together. To find comradery, to demonstrate solidarity; to strategize, to learn, to celebrate, and to heal.
So, come find joy. Find love. Find community. Find an example of a church that loves you and will stand up for you and your community. Find relief from the seemingly unrelenting pace of change and struggle in our world. Exchange it for a chance to experience a peace that passes understanding, and a fire fueled by our collective love. Trust me, you want to be in the room where it happens.
I hope to see you in Charlotte.
Nick (they/them) is an organizer, educator, and advocate with over 14 years of experience in community education and facilitation around social justice issues. Trained in elementary education, ethics, theology, and street activism, Nick has worked with schools, religious communities, political organizations, and non-profit organizations on a variety of diversity and justice issues.