February 28, 2020
Here is what I perceive.
I perceive that the United Methodist Church has for years been willing to look away from the profanity of exclusion practiced toward its LGBTQI+ kindred.
This unwillingness to confront injustice created a culture of collusion.
The system was unwilling to name injustice toward LGBTQI+ children of God in any sort of prophetic and tangible ways.
So it didn’t.
People were silenced and closeted and souls were violated.
Churches and those given charge to lead the churches colluded in this violation.
So when we wonder what happened to the United Methodist Church I think we can say that a church that is/was unwilling to resist evil, injustice and oppression on behalf of all of God’s beloveds; that church harmed the Body of Christ.
The harm persists. The dissipation of Spirit energy is a palpable wound.
There is much talk about how the church must reach out to the younger generation. People the age of my children and younger (age thirty and below) are targeted as those who must hear our message of mea culpa about what has been and they are targeted as those who must know our sincere desire to do better, to love more fully, to embody the Gospel of Jesus in ways discernible and real.
And I hear that fervent desire and I wonder: have we learned?
Is this yet another ploy of an organization aware that the gig is up?
Are we so frantic to replenish the future that we zoom past the wounds that must be named and gentled into newness of life?
Where is the naming of the pain?
Where is the willingness to name the pain of confirmation students told by their pastors that they are damned?
Where is the acknowledgement that there are clergy and laity who have been in this struggle for the fifty years (on paper, anyway) that discrimination has been part and parcel of what it means to be United Methodist?
How is it that courting the young can be done with any integrity while assuming that the “that was then this is now” will play?
The Spirit knows and demands better from the people of Jesus called United Methodists.
I sat at a gathering at Hamline University hearing the hearts of leaders who have given their life-force to a movement that must be dismantled. I heard that awareness named. Thank you, Bishops.
And, I caution us all to stop and consider the time it will take to heal and trust and believe.
There is a near-frantic need to evangelize to our youth and young people. This I understand.
But we cannot build a new and healthy movement without the time it takes to name the wounds and fully examine how it is the people of Jesus the Christ participated in death-dealing.
For that healing to happen, the voices and wounds of the young people and the elders must be welcomed and honored.
In order for the Body to heal we need a healing movement of confession, lament and reconciliation to roll across the souls of Wesleyan Jesus followers.
I am a woman of 62 years.
I have dedicated 24 years of ministry to the United Methodist movement. For all of those 24 years I have been a vocal and public advocate for full inclusion.
I have seen so much pain.
I am legion.
And, I am aware that I cannot much bear to continue as a representative of this denomination unless and until we get to the business of naming and honoring the costs borne by too many for too long.
I am ready for a new day.
And, the new must be built upon the lessons we find the courage to explore, name, and own.
It is needful work.
Thank you Elizabeth for stating the pain so well and completely. Your pain and the pain of the church just leapt off the page as I read this thoughtful message. There is so much work to be done in moving forward. I pray that we all have the strength to help it happen.
Thanks Lynne. We can do this hard thing!!!!
Oh yes, I know it can happen with wonderful leaders like you and all of us working together.