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Jesus Didn’t Reject People….Why Does the Church?

01 May

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The United Methodist Church has been debating everything gay since 1972. That’s a long time. I was in 4th grade when the debate started and it’s still going on(not 4th grade. I did eventually make it all the way to graduate school). At this week’s General Conference (the big once-every-four-years business meeting of the Methodists) the delegates will once again pull out the topic of homosexuality, dust it off, and no doubt bring it to emotional crescendo at the 1000 delegate gathering. Good luck, United Methodists. My hat is off to you for not losing sight of what should be a burning issue, an issue over which you can speak with a prophetic voice. And I congratulate you on your unflagging devotion to keep this issue in the forefront.

I also have no faith in you.

Nearly half of the voting delegates at this year’s conference are from countries outside the United States; those countries, almost without exception, are fundamentally opposed to any LGBT rights. For example, Liberia, where being gay is considered a crime punishable by execution, has representative delegates. The other half of the voting delegates are from the U.S. But most of those delegates are from regions known for their conservative, traditional views and have expressed anti-LGBT beliefs.

Only a small minority of the 1000 delegates support LGBT rights.

See the problem? It’s not going to happen. At least not this year.

Thinking about the General Conference and what is likely to come out of it, I have to ask “why would anyone stay with an organization that openly, officially, and systematically rejects them?”

Here are the only two reasons I can think of:

I am not giving up on the church I love and am going to stay and fight for change. OK. I get that. And I respect and support it. I’m just not sure I would have the energy to keep fighting. Especially if I had been engaged in the fight since 4th grade.

Here is a second reason for staying: I grew up in this church, I love it, and my home is here. OK. I get that as well. I have no quippy answer for that one. But my heart breaks for you. To be officially unwelcome in the place one calls home is much worse than feeling unwelcome in an institution one occasionally and casually frequents.

Here’s my solution for Methodists who are gay (not that you asked for my solution): come on over to the United Church of Christ. We are open and affirming, you can marry your partner in our sanctuaries, get ordained into our clergy, serve communion, lead the youth group, and since we are a church, you are encouraged to give us your money. But then, your money will support what you really believe–that Jesus didn’t reject people and neither should the Church.

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10 Comments

Posted by on May 1, 2012 in Blogging With Jane

 

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10 responses to “Jesus Didn’t Reject People….Why Does the Church?

  1. bill daws

    May 1, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    As a former member of the United Methodist Church, I grieve that a denomination once progressive seems to have grown timid. I rejoice that my current home church, Zion UCC, and current denomination shows the courage to follow Jesus and welcome all people.

     
  2. janewillan

    May 1, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    I don’t know if the delegates at the Conference truly represent the people of the UMC. There is a big grassroots movement that is Open and Affirming within the UMC. http://www.rmnetwork.org/

     
  3. Jim Wagner

    May 1, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Gay United Methodists get a lot of behind-the-scenes support, but not much public. Especially from clergy, who fear their careers might be jeopardized if they openly supported the LGBT community. As two former United Methodists with 90 years of combined membership, that’s one of the primary reasons we are members of Kirkwood UCC in Kirkwood, MO, and were proudly married at Zion UCC. Richard and I will always be grateful.

     
  4. janewillan

    May 1, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    It was an honor to do your wedding! What a fun day that was…..I’m looking forward to seeing you both again.

     
  5. John

    May 1, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    As a former United Methodist I rejoice in now being a member of the United Church of Christ and feeling my personal philosophy and denomination are compatible. As are many of various denominations, I was a product of my formative years and upbringing–truly an apple that fell not far from the tree. I was among those who saw the sadness and waste of denying full participation in the sacrament of marriage, and service as clergy of openly LGBT persons. but always assumed full participation was only a matter of time or changing times, members and world views. Eventually a General Conference would alter the methodical denial of full participation by all in God through the UM Church. Alas, such has not occurred and seems even more unlikely. How ironic that the UM slogan references open minds and open hearts.

     
  6. janewillan

    May 1, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    I agree. I keep thinking it is only a matter of time but now I don’t know…

     
  7. John

    May 2, 2012 at 5:17 am

    We and our institutions–including our churches and our country–create a mythos that handles disconnects and contradictions…and theses “myths” provide a meaningful reality in which we can exist morally. We’ve seen it with race, the social safety net, the rugged individual, etc. Only a major event or calamity can show the flaws or weaknesses in such myths, because our reality was fashioned around them. We honestly don’t see them generally, and even as the world changes slowly around us (membership declines, for example) we often suffer a paralysis in confronting them at all. A typical myth in churches would be the view that they are open an friendly to strangers, but openness and reaching out really don’t happen. Where institutional action actually stands in the way, as in full LGBT acceptance in the UM church, there is acceptance of the reality, but a myth is fashioned to handle the shortfall–a myth that tells folks it is OK because of all the other focus on meeting all the other aspects of the social gospel.
    John Wesley said the World is his Parish…but, apparently, not quite all of it.

     
    • janewillan

      May 2, 2012 at 10:12 am

      Your comment makes me think of the myth surrounding “Stand your ground”. There is somehow a belief that carrying a gun and engaging in self-defense is a part of being a true American, while the reality around us is quite different.

       
  8. John Helt

    May 2, 2012 at 6:45 am

    Jane
    thanks for this!
    President Ford famously said once of Congress: “If Lincoln were alive today, he’d be rolling over in his grave.”

    I might say this of Margaret Helt in relation to your last post. On the other hand, I like to believe that “eternal rest” includes some kind of clarity about the fuzzy things we fight about on this side of the river. Maybe she is now in a position to say to you, “Alleluia! Amen!”

    Had the Ordnance Plant not come in 1942, I would have grown up “out there” and gone to my father’s Methodist instead of my mother’s E&R/UCC church. There but for the grace of God….

    John Helt

     
  9. janewillan

    May 2, 2012 at 10:13 am

    I think deep down in the privacy of her soul she was always saying “Alleluia, Amen!”

     

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