How Long?

In 1965, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. struggled with
the nation as we moved ever closer to civil rights inclusion for minorities. He
asked, “How long?” and, in response to his own inquiry, King shouted, “Not
long!”  Not long, because, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it
bends toward justice.”

And, yet, for the UMC it seems that the arc is a little longer; that it
bends a little slower. Historically, we clashed (and split) over the issue of
slavery. We were slow to accept women into our ordained ranks. We maintained
our Central Conferences, rather than admit others into “our” conferences. While
we are a social justice church, we have inexplicably been on the tail end of
many civil rights issues. It begs the question: What do we learn from history?

In 2013, the UMC is found standing our ground on a position we staked out
in 1972. For forty years, we have legislated against an inclusion of our LGBT
in the life of our supposedly “open hearts, open minds, open doors.”

How long?

Many clergy are poised to defy the Book of Discipline’s injunction against
performing same-sex weddings. These ordained men and women are ready to risk
the UMC’s legal system in order to fulfill what they believe is God’s calling.
Retired Bishop Melvin Talbert said that the Book of Discipline “no
longer deserve our loyalty and obedience” and that he plans to perform same-sex
unions if requested to do so. “I plan to do it because I intend to do the right
thing, and may I say I am at peace with myself and with God for doing it,” he
said. Talbert’s rationale was apparent when he concluded, “There will be times
when you [clergy and laity] will be called and challenged to choose between God
and your church, because the church does not always do the right thing.”

How long?

Fortunately, I believe the answer is a definitive echo of Dr. King: “Not
long!” The day is coming and it is not far off. The question is: Will the UMC
lead, or be led? Will we step into the all-inclusive love of God, as we have
seen it expressed in the life, mission and ministry of Jesus, or will we
begrudgingly open our churches for fear of losing even more people who find us
increasingly antiquated, out-of-touch and irrelevant?

Rev. Matt Seargeant

Rev. Matt Seargeant, pastor of Brea UMC in Brea, CA, is a passionate preacher, inviting his listeners to think along with him each Sunday. He brings an understanding of progressive theology into the pulpit and is willing to discuss faith with anyone who asks. In addition, he loves to teach, regularly holding study sessions in his home. He believes that religion and faith shouldn't be boring or dull and brings a sense of spontaneity and fun to his ministry. Matt is an avid baseball fan, the Dodgers being his favorite team. He enjoys photography, travel, learning, doing crossword puzzles with his daughters, and having fun.

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