The Judicial Council’s decision in the case of Frank Schaefer is a reason to celebrate. In many ways, it is the clearest sign to date of the shape of the victory in the war over the place of LGBT persons within The United Methodist Church. Inclusion will win decisively and irrevocably in this church because it is the heart of the Gospel of this church and every church that loves Jesus.
And yet, as much as I want to celebrate today, I can’t let myself because not all of us were lucky enough to have Frank as a father.
I am sad today for all of us who grew up as kids in United Methodist parsonages, whose parents – who were also our pastors – participated not in our liberation but colluded in our diminishment.
I think of all of us who have trusted our pastor-parents with the truth of our stories and heard The Bible or The Discipline quoted at us.
I think of all of us who asked if our partners could come to Thanksgiving and were told no because there would be church members there.
I think of all of us who were invited to Homecoming at our parent’s churches but were asked not to be our fabulous, fantastic selves.
I think of all of us who wanted our parents to preside at our weddings, and though they are now legally able to in many states, we are turned down for fear of a bishop.
I think of all of us who know that a parsonage can be a closet long after we have dared to break free from one.
I am sad for us.
And yet, today, Frank has become something of a parent to all of us. He’s the one who did his own work after our coming out. He’s the one who evolved and changed. He’s the one who figured out that we were not embarrassments but blessings.
He’s the one who said that love binds people together in ways Disciplines can’t.
He’s the one who got it right. He’s the pastor-parent we deserve.