by Joey Heath
To have a prophetic voice. To speak with the authority of God. To speak the truth of God. To show the love of God in everyday. These are part of who a pastor should be.
I have been learning about the reformation in my church history class and how the people hungered for the word of God. One woman stood up because she was called by God when others were not willing to stand up and speak out with a prophetic voice. This woman was a contemporary of Martin Luther named Argula von Grumbach and if you ever get the chance to read her Letter to the University of Ingolstadt I highly recommend it. In this letter she took on the corrupt Roman Catholic establishment of the time and the persecutions of the reformers and used scripture to back up everything she said. In doing so she preached the word of God. That is what I call prophetic voice. She spoke out because she felt called by God to speak out.
God calls us all to do certain things. For some it may be to be a teacher. For some it may be to practice law. For some it may be to be a stay at home parent. And for some they are called to preach and share the love of God from the pulpit on Sunday mornings and wherever else they might be throughout the week. A calling from God, particularly to be a pastor, is a high calling to follow.
I have a calling and I hope those who read these blogs or hear me speak hear the prophetic voice of God coming through. I am called to be a pastor, an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. Sadly I am not sure I will be able to become one at least for now. You see, because of the things I write about on here and my openness about who I am and the fact that I refuse to stop trying to be a prophetic voice particularly on the issues of sexuality and gender identity my candidacy will most likely be rejected. Sadly the United Methodist Church recognizes the call of many but not all. You see if you identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (thank God there are no rules against being transgender, though some protection would be nice) then your candidacy is in jeopardy. The United Methodist Church actually actively rejects these that are called by God. They will recognize the gifts the person has and acknowledge they would be a great pastor and then reject them based on their sexuality. How can we a church who follows God reject those called by God? If a person is called by God shouldn't that be good enough for us to accept them?
Right now the church is losing good pastors who could have been the future leaders in the UMC. I know of several who have left the UMC for other denominations for this exact reason. They love the United Methodist Church and they feel called to be a pastor but because the UMC views them as a person of sacred worth who is unfortunately “incompatible with Christian teachings” they are rejected and in order to live out their calling they have left. Why are we letting this happen? When are we going to reject this notion that some how because someone loves a person of the same gender that they are damaged and unworthy? When are we going to stop riding the fence on this issue and speak as a church with prophetic voice claiming that all are equal and truly of sacred worth because they were created by God and called into God's service? When will we recognize the calling that God has placed on so many of the lives of LGBTQ people?
Joey Heath is a 26 year old life long United Methodist. He is currently a graduate student at Wesley Theological Seminary completing his Masters in Divinity. Once an ordained pastor, Joey hopes he will be able to bring real change to the UMC on the issues of sexuality and gender identity at the broader church level, but also with individuals, so that one day the church will truly be a place that is inclusive of all people.