by Laura Young
This year, Breaking the Silence (BTS) hosted its 14th annual luncheon at the Texas Annual Conference (Texas AC). Approximately 300 clergy and laity gathered to hear director Ky Dickens talk to us about her newly released documentary, “Fish Out of Water.” She shared experiences and valuable information accumulated as she toured the nation interviewing theologians, scholars, and hundreds of LGBT persons longing to be welcomed in their churches. Included in her speech was a challenge to Believe Out Loud, and to begin now, in this critical 12 months leading up to the 2011 election year when we will elect delegates to General Conference. If we begin now, and spend the next year believing out loud, we have the potential to truly impact the election results and the representatives we send to General Conference in 2012.
Some clergy and laity began believing out loud as soon as they left the BTS luncheon and returned to the afternoon business session. Bering Memorial UMC in Houston (the only reconciling congregation in the Texas AC) provided “goody bags” for all who attended the BTS luncheon. Inside the goody bags was a variety of fun items to help us believe out loud. They included buttons, pencils, stickers, lanyards (the ribbons we wear around our necks to hold our conference name badges), and candy, of course! Buttons are always a big hit and we saw them on shirts, jackets, and tote bags throughout the rest of the week, but the lanyards win the prize this year! You see, when we registered for annual conference we received a red lanyard custom made to say, “Texas Annual Conference.” Our goody bags provided blue lanyards custom made to say, “Breaking the Silence.” Some of our clergy and laity chose to permanently replace their red TEXAS AC lanyard with the blue BTS lanyard for the rest of the conference. Because they were different from the official lanyard, they stuck out and became a visible witness and great conversation starter!
We must move from being Reconciling United Methodists to Reconciling United Methodists who Believe Out Loud. Each of us is likely in a different place on that particular journey. Your next step toward being a Reconciling United Methodist who believes out loud is probably different from the next step your neighbor needs to take. For some in the Texas AC, wearing that blue BTS lanyard into the business session was a huge first step toward believing out loud. BTS invites everyone to join us. Whatever that next step is for you . . . . take it!