Why some are choosing to stay in The United Methodist Church…
by Rev. Dr. Susan A. Heafner-Heun
It isn’t easy to stay. I can’t say that I am fond of it. My first instinct is to run and run fast. It would be easier. It would “show them” (whoever “them” is) that I mean it this time. It would feel good to make a public statement at our annual conference and dramatically throw my credentials on the floor.
But something just won’t let me do it. Maybe because the UMC has been my home for 39 years. Maybe because I still want to see it come to a place of mirroring the Divine. Maybe because I think when the UMC finally confesses the sin of discrimination and hate it will be followed by an unbelievable expression of love, justice, and jubilant song. I don’t want to miss that.
And maybe because I just want to punch something. Lately I was reminded of a great story. Robert Louis Stevenson, was a young boy in Edinburgh, Scotland, in the 19th century. He was fascinated by the work of the old lamplighters who went about town with a ladder and a torch, setting the street lights on fire for the night.
One evening, Robert stood watching with fascination, his parents asked him, “Robert, what in the world are you looking at out there?” With great excitement he exclaimed, “Look at that man! He’s punching holes in the darkness!”
I am staying because I want to punch holes in the darkness. I am staying because even in my broken denomination a new community of faith formed in the Lake Norman area of North Carolina. This community calls itself Inclusion and has been a light for many. It will continue to be a light and it will continue punching holes in the darkness. We thought we would be punching holes out in the world. Now we see we have to punch more holes in the church. We are up for it.
. . .
I am Rev. Dr. Susan A. Heafner-Heun (but I prefer just Susan which is a lot easier to say), an Elder in the Western NC Conference and Pastor of Inclusion Community a new faith community started in 2010. We are located in Cornelius, North Carolina – Lake Norman and we are proud to be a part of RMN.
Reasons I Stay is a project of Reconciling Ministries Network dedicated to share the stories of individuals who have decided to stay in The United Methodist Church despite its descriminatory, unjust, immoral rules against LGBTQ persons. It is part of the Biblical Obedience movement sweeping across The United Methodist Church. We recognize that staying is not the right and healthy choice for all people, and we celebrate those too who have chosen to leave to more inclusive faith communities. You can read all the Reasons I Stay stories here. We invite you to submit your own story to Reasons I Stay.