Let’s confess, to be a Reconciling United Methodist is to invite heartache. Since the new year:

My friend and colleague, Rev. David Meredith, has faced, once again, a confused and punitive denomination which continues to choose to wrestle with law rather than live in the light of Love. Heartache.

Anna Golladay, a licensed local pastor serving as Associate pastor of St. Marks and St. Elmo United Methodist Churches in Chattanooga, TN – both Reconciling Congregations – was recently removed from her appointment for joyfully officiating at the marriage of two women from one of the churches. Heartache.

LGBTQ candidates for ordained ministry continue to report being delayed – if not, stopped – by District Committees and Boards of Ordained Ministry. Heartache.

And Rev. Cynthia Meyer, who stepped away from her parish ministry in an effort to avoid the emotional, physical, spiritual, and financial cost of a trial as 2016 began, took the pulpit at University UMC in Lawrence, KS, robed and stoled, to announce that she has been welcomed as clergy by the United Church of Christ and will resume her call in that communion. There is a sadness in my gladness for her.

Let’s be clear, our denomination continues to harm and cause pain by its discriminatory policies and practices.

During forty years in this work of denominational reform, I have often been asked where I find hope. the answer has remained the same from the beginning. I find hope in the local church: 

Where people gather to worship and learn and serve.
Where children are celebrated and the elders are treasured.
Where all people are genuinely welcomed and invited into mission.
Where the hungry are fed, the homeless sheltered.
Where the broken are restored, the silenced find voice, the bound released.
Where Love leads us onward and outward.

Hope. Since the new year, the counter on the RMN home page has turned once or twice most weeks. What began with three congregations (east coast, west coast, and middle America), is a movement which since the new year now numbers…

888 Binghampton United Methodist Mission, Memphis, Tennessee
889 Contemporary Christian Roundtable of Mountain View UMC, Woodland Park, Colorado
891 Asbury UMC, Delaware, Ohio
892 First UMC, San Jose, California
893 Living the Questions Class of First UMC, Pflugerville, Texas
894 All Means All of Avent Ferry UMC, Raleigh, North Carolina
895 Bethel UMC, Staten Island, New York
896 Louisiana Open Table Fellowship of Baton Rouge, Louisiana
897 Wesley Memorial UMC, Charlottesville, Virginia
898 Aldersgate UMC, San Rafael, California
899 ALFies Sunday School Class of Central UMC, Albuquerque, New Mexico
900 Mesa View UMC, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Let’s celebrate congregations and communities that are not waiting for the special session of General Conference to tell them who they are. After study, prayer, and holy conversations, they have, guided by the Spirit of Love and Justice, determined their way forward. They will practice inclusive ministry. Their work and witness will be grace-based. They will proclaim the Jesus of Justice and Love despite the denomination’s exclusionary policies!

Watch the RMN counter for yourselves. Hope abounds.

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