So, I’m a bit of a mess this morning. Typical for me. This happens soon after every “event” such as the church trial we’ve all endured the past few days. There are always moments in the thick of things when I tear up for a second, but I’m usually able to keep it together and push through the work that needs to be done. It’s the morning after that I fall apart. And here we are.
I’d like to think that I’m more committed, but the truth is that I reevaluate my relationship with The United Methodist Church quite often and most certainly in the wake of major events such as General Conference, an awful decision by the Council of Bishops or Judicial Council, a church trial, etc. Yes, The United Methodist Church does a lot of good, UMCOR is first to mind, but the harm we do is so tremendous that we’re out of balance.
Harm of any kind is bad enough, but institutional harm in the name of Christ is unworthy of the Xian name we bear. Unworthy. And we know it. The Church I love is doing harm to the people I love – over and over again. How long?
Like so many times before, I woke up after a few hours of bad dreams to feelings of anger and shame so intense that I struggled even to help my kids get ready for school. Like so many times before, every time in fact, it was one of my LGBT friends whose attitude and commitment put me in my place and shook me back to faithfulness. I have a vivid memory of Mark Miller serving in this role at the communion table in the Tampa Convention Center.
This morning it was Sean Delmore.
He actually began last night, but I was too involved to allow it to affect me. This morning he started again – listing reasons why he stays. Sean is a transgender man who is clearly, clearly called to ministry and has been given an unfair amount of gifts and graces with which to fulfill such a calling, yet he has suffered significant rejection and countless roadblocks throughout his journey. His stories are plentiful, heartbreaking, and inspiring. I’m continually amazed at the dedication and loyalty of those who suffer the most at the hands of our church. “I believe in Methodism and in Wesleyan theology,” he says. Sean is staying. Thanks be to God.
Don’t get me wrong, I respect dissent. As Tiffany Steinwert said yesterday, “Dissent is perhaps the most passionate and difficult form of loyalty.” I know, once again, we’ll lose many United Methodists following this trial. It happens every time. And while I deeply grieve the loss of dear friends I don’t love or respect them one bit less. Sometimes it’s a matter of survival. I love them. I want them to survive and be well.
So here we are, the morning after. I can’t say there won’t be more tears this week, but I’ve survived the meltdown and faced the big decision once again. I am grateful to Sean, not only for his wisdom, courage, and commitment, but for our cherished friendship. When I’m in a place where I can be real about it (not today, I’m still too angry) I can identify many reasons why I choose to stay in The United Methodist Church, but one reason always remains at the top of the list: my Reconciling Family. Period. What an amazing collection of God’s beloved children! What comitted leadership! What a fantastic advocate we have in Rev. Frank Schaefer and his family. Thank you for your witness, time and time again. Thank you for the hope that springs forth every time I find myself in this place. There is much to celebrate and much work to be done. Surrounded by a support system second to none, I’m getting back to work!
Sean Delmore = #reasonsIstay
. . .
- #reasonsIstay - November 22, 2013
- The times, they are a trainin’ - January 22, 2013
- Jurisdictional Conference Reflection: South Central - August 14, 2012