Like you, perhaps, I am weary of the battle that is being waged in our church family. And I am embarrassed that what so many of God’s people see and know as the United Methodist Church is that we harm people:
- We charge clergy, bring them to trial and defrock them.
- We excommunicate.
- We silence burgeoning calls to ministry.
- We injure our LGBTQIA siblings over and over again.
- We alienate entire communities, families, and younger generations.
Yes, I am weary and embarrassed of this battle.
Moreover, my heart is extremely heavy knowing that I am part of a church, ordained by a church, that continues to injure deeply God’s people all the while proclaiming that we are following Jesus.
What the world sees of our church right now is not the hours and hours dedicated to ending homelessness or malaria. What the world hears of our church right now is not the pastor’s bedside prayer before surgery or the supportive words to a teenager struggling with self-esteem. What the world knows of our church right now is not our call to love our neighbor, or our call to be a voice of compassion, or our call to listen and walk together with all of God’s people.
No, that’s not what the world is observing of The United Methodist Church. The world sees that we are a church divided over human sexuality, sexual orientation and who God will or won’t bless in a Christian marriage. The world sees a church that injures the LGBTQIA community. The world sees a church that remains silent (but divided anyway).
And, as weary as I am of it all, I know in my heart of hearts that it’s long, long past time that we take responsibility to change the rhetoric.
It’s long past time that I stop complaining about the media telling me who my church is and isn’t, and do something about it.
It’s not enough I officiate a same gender wedding. It’s not enough what I believe, or profess, or how i walk my walk. I remain part of a church family that is hurting generations of God’s people in the very name of God.
Yes, I believe God calls our church to be open to every one of God’s people. Every one. No one is to be excluded. Yes, I believe that every one of God’s people is born to experience and thrive in healthy relationship with one another. And yes, I believe that God created each one of us to be unique and beautiful — exactly how God designed us. But, it’s not enough that I believe this. It’s not enough that I lead a local church from this perspective.
God calls me to be a voice of justice, to stand up and be loud for God’s love.
God calls me to end the hurt that my very own church is inflicting. God calls me to do more than do what is right. God calls me to lead the way with the gifts that God has given to me.
And so, I am stumbling ahead with this weary cry in my heart that I would be one to stand and be loud for God’s love. But, I also know that I don’t stumble alone, and I ask you now:
Will you join me?
Will you join me to change what the world sees, hears and senses about our church? Right now, in this moment, will you:
Contribute financially? We are raising funds to launch a media campaign in the Cal-Pac conference professing that we are a church of love for all … you can read more about it here:
Show up in person on October 10? We are hosting a very special Renewal of Vows ceremony on October 10 in different local churches across the California-Pacific Conference. Married same gender couples, friends and family, supportive clergy and churches are all invited. Let’s celebrate Marriage Equality and be loud about it.
Come, I invite you to be weary with me.
And may God push our weariness into the ancient, yet always newborn, cry for justice and love.
Previous to her appointment at Los Altos UMC, Pastor Melinda served as the founding Executive Director for The Work of Angels Group, a 501(c)3 serving transitional-aged foster youth; the Community Youth Pastor for the First United Methodist Church of Canoga Park and the Director of Youth Ministries for the Atascadero United Methodist Church.She has also worked in theatre and opera production on all sides: administrative, productive and technical.She has experience onstage with the Los Angeles Opera, San Francisco Opera and Houston Grand Opera, among others, producing well over 350 performances of some 70+ operas.
Pastor Melinda holds a Master of Divinity from the Claremont School of Theology where she was honored with the Hoyt Hickman Award for Worship and Liturgics.She also holds a Master of Arts in Theatre from the University of Michigan.She resides in Los Alamitos with her husband, the Rev. Johan Dodge, and two young children.In her free time, Pastor Melinda enjoys reading, yoga, good coffee, traveling, baking and gardening.And goats.