I’m a gay United Methodist. I’ve been a member of my local congregation for about twenty years, joining this congregation shortly before my church graciously hosted the Celebration of Life service for my late partner of 16 years. I’ve chaired several committees, including the Pastor/Staff-Parish Relations Committee, written articles for church publications (including its history on its 100th anniversary) and I have been chaplain of our adult choir for more than ten years.
Mine is a diverse suburban congregation of about six hundred members. I have always been proudly out, yet not once have I ever suffered even the slightest hint of homophobia nor discrimination in this local church. Every person I’ve encountered here genuinely practices Christ’s teachings of loving support, acceptance, and Christian compassion. I truly love the members and families of my church, and I know they love me. My current partner of twenty-plus years is warmly welcomed when he attends church events, and our photo together has appeared in our church membership directory.
But here’s the issue: So far as I’m concerned, The United Methodist Church simply does not exist above nor beyond my local church. This local congregation is all there is for me. Why? For the simple reason that outside the walls of my church, the larger UMC hierarchy presents itself as a bigoted homophobic hypocrisy.
“Open hearts, open minds, open doors”? Really? Surely you jest. Doors maybe, but hearts and minds firmly welded shut.
Just as I send an automatic contribution from my bank to my local church each month, I would like to also contribute to UMC worldwide charitable efforts, yet in good conscience, I cannot in any way support a homophobic organization.
As are my fellow UMC parishioners, I am a purposefully created child of God. I was born gay and will always be happily and very proudly gay. I am certain beyond any shadow of doubt that my Creator had me in mind exactly as I am, and I am profoundly grateful for that.
Our world today is a sea of hatefully spiteful hypocrisy. Why can’t the United Methodist Church rise above that?