good news

 

The United Methodist Church is in the news these days.

We are not in the news for the ways we reach into places where typhoons decimate and poverty gnarls, though we could be.

We are not in the news for the ways we have fought for justice through a conviction that we are called to “be in ministry for and with all persons” (Para. 161F, Book of Discipline),  though we long to be.

Instead we are in the news for the ways our church polity trumps gospel imperative.

At Richfield United Methodist Church we have sought to listen deeply to the heart of the Holy.  In our discernment we have turned to scripture, tradition, reason and experience to lead us to the recognition that we cannot collude with the barricading of grace.  We desire to welcome all families into a transformational relationship with Jesus the Christ.  We want to provide a church community through which people are held and known as they move ever deeper into communion with a God who welcomes and sustains love in all its manifestations.

Jesus welcomed all to the table of grace.  We believe we are called to do the same; in fact, we feel powerfully blessed to be able to do the same.

Our conversations, prayers and deep listening prompted us to adopt the statement shared below*.

We pray that through this United Methodist Church the wildly inclusive love of God in Christ will be proclaimed, lived, shared and celebrated by all.

We would like for that to be good news of great joy.

How else would we live the gospel of Jesus?

RICHFIELD UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

Commitment to Marriage Equality

As a church in the Methodist tradition since 1854, Richfield United Methodist Church’s ministries are grounded in Jesus’ call to love both God and neighbor. We acknowledge that we have often failed to extend the radical hospitality that God asks of us, even as we continually strive to do so.

In 2007—seeking to open our hearts, minds, and doors—we publicly welcomed lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families into full participation in the life and ministries of the congregation, and we continue to do so today.

We recognize that when two people come together to form a primary committed relationship, they often ask the church to bless their wedding. With due consideration, the church responds by celebrating, in the presence of their families and friends, the work of God’s Spirit in their lives.

We lament that in our time, so many courts, legislatures, and religious institutions still deny same-gender and transgender couples equal access to marriage and all the blessings, rights, and responsibilities thereof.

We rejoice that at this point in history, the arc of justice now bends toward equal recognition of marriage for all couples.

Today we affirm that God’s grace is open to all, and we witness to that grace through our commitment to justice and equality in our congregation, the state of Minnesota, the United Methodist Church, and the world. We will honor and celebrate the wedding of any couple, licensed in Minnesota, who seek to commit their lives to one another in marriage.

Approved by the Administrative Board of Richfield UMC

Signed on September 17, 2013 by

Sue Restemayer, Ad Board Chair, Nick Dewey, Trustees Chair, David Couillard, Lay Leader, and Rev. Elizabeth Macaulay, Pastor

*We are grateful for the work of Dumbarton UMC.  Our statement is patterned after theirs.

wow

My phone rang at three this morning.

On the line was my daughter, sobbing.

Most times that combo platter would strike terror in my heart but not last night.  The tears sprang from joy.  After months of leaving full time work to phone bank and organize for the defeat of the marriage amendment, after spending months with her partner gone to the trenches of voter ID battle, Leah heard the voice of her beloved state speak.

What she heard was that in Minnesota, we don’t countenance legislated barricades to full inclusion.

That is a voice the world and our state sore need to hear.

Tears indeed.  Gratitude and wonder and hope live.

Here in Minnesota, they live.

 

we’re ok

I spent part of last night in the company of our future.

I was at Minnesotans United for All Families for a phone bank training.  There were some fifty of us in a big room.  There were many places we could have been.  We were there.

We were there on National Coming Out Day in order to make phone calls to voters.  With a scant few days before the election and air waves being inundated with increasingly fear-provoking ads, the need for heart touching is great.

What I saw as I took part in it all was that I was easily one of the oldest people there.  I sat with my two daughters.  Around me were couples, singles, and a wonderful assortment of the kind of young people I would LOVE to have in the pews of the church I serve.  They were there because they do not want the constitution of their state to be contorted by discrimination.

I am hopeful.  With all the anxieties of this election season, what I saw last night gives me a great sense that there is a generation coming up behind us that knows the power of civic engagement and knows how vital it is to be attentive and engaged.

It’s about love.  It’s about love for country and love for the gift that is living democracy and it is about the living of love in families and last night that love walked into the room in the hearts of those who care enough to take action.

Join them.  Join those who were surprised a minister would be present.  Join those who speak up and have conversations via phone or in person.  Find a phone bank or invite a friend out for coffee or write letters to the editor and pray pray pray that love might live in a Minnesota that values justice for all people.

Maybe, just maybe, if the church of Christ Jesus speaks for love, those present last night might see their way into faith community.

We need them.  They have much to teach us.

fear and trembling

While on pilgrimage in Ireland, I fasted from news.

I didn’t log on or pick up newspapers.  It was intentional.

I’m invested in this upcoming election.  Beyond the electing of the President and others running for office (no small thing) are two issues that seem to me to define who we are as Minnesotans in community:  the (anti) marriage amendment and the effort being made to restrict access to voting.

Should Minnesota voters vote “yes” on either issue, the numbers of people who will be uninvited from living in community is staggering.

I cannot comprehend that the love of same gender persons who make family together is so  “dangerous” that Minnesotans must contort our Constitution to legislate oppression.

I cannot comprehend that Minnesotans would willy-nilly make it more difficult for anyone who stirs themselves to care about our public life to make their voice heard at the polls.  Reading the fine print of implications of this voter restriction is essential.  The people affected are the young, those serving our country, the elderly and the disproportionate numbers of non-whites who do not have a photo id.  The statistics concerning past voter fraud are laughable.  There are few cases proven.  There is no sinister band of folk seeking to rig an election through voter fraud.

There does seem to be a move afoot to “protect” the state of Minnesota from those who are not straight Scandinavians.

See what I mean?  I’m concerned about these issues and the impact the vote will have on our sense of who we are together.

Already I’m making plans for where I will be on election night.  It feels immense, this time of casting of votes and defining of values.  I am checking in with my children, each of whom is phone banking and door knocking as the day of casting ballots nears.  I want to be sure they are in good company on election night.

As for me, I’ll be at the home of dear friends.  We will eat jello and share the decisions made by our neighbors.

In the meantime, I’ll remember the ten day news fast as gift and as reminder; the world commences without my heart being pummeled by newspapers and defining votes.

And, I’ll bring my heart and my voice into conversations and prayer for the opening of hearts here in Minnesota.