Nice Christian girls can find suitable, strong, God-fearing husbands at church. But where do outspoken, assertive women who want to follow the subversive call of Jesus go to find their wives? Well, I met my wonderful wife while serving on the leadership team for a United Methodist church plant called RISE.

My wife, Lindsay, and I have maneuvered our way through an obstacle-ridden path.

We’ve managed to climb over the boulders of family ostracism, swim through the murky waters of societal shame, and even navigate through the thorny bushes of “Christian” hatefulness and church exclusion.

Our story is an interesting one because we have been harmed by the wider church and the bureaucracy of The UMC, but have been able to thrive due to the support and outstanding love we received from our community of faith. As we wrestled through questions about the intersection of sexuality and spirituality, our church community wrestled with us. As we carried the anxiety and shame that comes with judgment and hatred, our pastor wiped our tears. And when we felt that we couldn’t possibly love each other well enough to sustain one another through the excruciating journey of being pushed to the margins of a heternormative society and a heteronormative church, our RISE friends consoled us, challenged us and helped to reshape our reality.

At our wedding this past November, we were surround by many friends and family, the large majority of them UMC pastors and church members. Our dear friend, mentor and leader, Amanda, performed our ceremony.

It was a great honor to stand before her, since she helped to shape our love of ministry and supported my transition from teacher to seminarian.

Both Lindsay and I (and the majority of people who have ever encountered her), respect Amanda for her deep commitment to following Jesus, to doing justice, and to living God’s Dream of a mended creation. Amanda risked her job, her credentials and her future to stand with us in our holy covenant before God. We could not be more grateful.

Lamentably, authority figures within The UMC did not recognize our marriage as holy nor covenantal.

They also did not recognize Amanda’s incredible love for us and her entire community, but instead reprimanded her for breaking unjust and inconsistent rules. Our bishop and district superintendent showed no interest in Lindsay’s and my stories, our love for one another, or our deep commitment to the church and the way of Jesus.

Lindsay and I met within The UMC while we were both committing our entire selves to a new church plant. We gave countless hours, spent an immense amount of energy, donated money, pushed ourselves out of our comfort zones, and challenged ourselves mentally, emotionally and spiritually in order to help this new faith community thrive.

Through this incredibly transformational journey, we began to witness the Beloved Community. We also began to fall in love.

I believe I can speak for both of us when I say that we first began to love one another by witnessing the way the other served the community and chased after God’s Dream of a reconciled creation. We have very different personalities; I’m outspoken and try to challenge others and love the big picture, while Lindsay is rock-steady and compassionate and loves to work on the details. After serving with Lindsay, I started to realize that our lives could compliment each other’s in the best possible way.

My wife and I, we’re big dreamers! Many of our dreams are focused within the realm of justice. Lindsay commits herself to environmental justice, working diligently on sustainability to help restore a wounded creation. I am passionate about re-humanizing persons and groups that have been dehumanized by oppressive systems.

We are all out for Jesus’ radical revolution of love.

Our journey has diverged from The UMC, as I plan to pursue ordination within the United Church of Christ. Still, we stand with Amanda and all of those within The UMC who fight for justice and faithfulness. We hope with a hope beyond hope that those who clinch tightly to power and control will be outlasted by the transformational reign of God. Let it be so.

Brittany Caine-Conley

Brittany Caine-Conley loves to dance and make inappropriate jokes. Currently, she works as the Volunteer Manager at Meals on Wheels and as the Coach Director for a sports-based youth development company. Brittany and Lindsay live in Charlottesville, VA with their incredibly good-looking dog, Lincoln.

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