I have high hopes. High hopes for my church and my congregation.
It is all about reconciliation.
The United Methodist Church, along with many other churches and religions, have had their own struggles with embracing those of us that are members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community. There are LGBT persons who have either been outright denied membership, and pastors that were openly gay or lesbian that were denied the ability to continue as members of the clergy. The belief of some in the church, is that homosexuality is inconsistent with church teachings. For many of us, that is nowhere near good enough for what we are seeking in a church community.
Love, compassion, understanding, embracing us for who we are, and the gifts that we bring and can offer to others.
So, there is a movement of reconciliation, within the United Methodist church that has been around for quite a number of years. The Reconciling Ministries Network. It promises all of us as LGBT members a place at the table, fully embraced and celebrated for the people that we are.
What a blessing, truly! To think that a group of persons affiliated with a church believes that God welcomes all of us. And that we can participate fully in a church. The spiritual part of myself is essential and present no matter if I attend church or not, but the sense of community in a church is something inspires and encourages me.
We have had some terrific fellowship in our small, local Methodist congregation. But, there are challenges that we need to face there. The congregation being willing to educate themselves on who we are as people, the oppression and negativity that we have had to face in our lives, our need to feel safety, security, and a sense of connection within our church community. Seems that it shouldn’t be that big of a challenge, but we are going head on with people’s long held beliefs here.
Even so, I feel compelled to teach, to help, to challenge them in their own growth. Just being tolerated has never been, and continues to not be good enough for me. Gratefully so. I need more than tolerance. I need compassion, and embracing, and understanding. I need to not be loved for who I am, yet hated for my “sin”. That language separates me from you, not bring me closer.
John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist church, had three, simple rules that he ascribed to. Do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God.
Could it be any simpler than that?