I was so grateful to read Renee Sappington's post in regards to the Mississippi Annual Conference.
Mississippi's been on my mind recently, ever since a friend shared with me the wording of Resolution #3. The resolution, responding to a presentation given by Renee and her partner at last year's Annual Conference, read in part:
"AND WHEREAS, as a result of this testimony, great harm has been done to the Mississippi Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. The results of this testimony were division, embarrassment, anger, and frustration. Some churches lost members and some withheld apportionments in protest."
The direction of this argument is one that has become familiar across our conferences and across our churches as we work to co-create a church that is as fully just, inclusive, and loving as our just, inclusive, and loving Savior would desire it to be.
Arguments against inclusion such as this one originate in a belief that it is not exclusion or silencing that cause pain in our churches and our communities, but rather the struggle to end exclusion and silencing. Bringing up taboo topics, the argument goes, means division. Stay silent and we can maintain unity.
Of course, for those who feel excluded or persecuted by the very church that should love them, this "unity" is the unity of closets and half-lives, not a a true unity of integrity and wholeness. It's a unity based on scapegoats--a unity based on exclusion. And it is this false unity that is creating "embarrassment, anger, and frustration" and is causing us to lose some of the most dedicated disciples and ministers of our church.
Case in point: A friend of mine recently send me a copy of a letter that he had also sent to his Bishop, District Superintendent, and District Committee on Ministry. The letter reads, in part:
"It has become clear to me in the past few months that at this point I cannot, in good conscience, continue in the process toward ordination in the United Methodist Church. I cannot, as a person of integrity operate under the current “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy of the United Methodist Church in regard to Sexual Orientation. I love the United Methodist Church. It is through the church that I have been formed and experienced my call to discipleship and my call to ministry. It pains me to realize that I must go elsewhere to truly live out my calling with integrity. I pray, that through the Grace of God, the United Methodist Church will one day come to realize the sinfulness of a policy that force women and men to lie about who they are and hide their spouses, children, and other loved ones....I look forward with great hopefulness to the day when no one has to write a senseless letter like this to the United Methodist Church."
Let's work and pray for that great day.
David Hosey is a life-long United Methodist and will be entering Wesley Theological Seminary in the Fall of 2010. From July 2007-July 2010, he worked as a Mission Intern with Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church, serving with the Sabeel Center in Jerusalem, Israel/Palestine and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation in Washington, DC, U.S.A. He is an inquiring candidate for ordained ministry in the United Methodist Church and also blogs at http://hoseyblog.blog.com. He attends Dumbarton UMC in Washington, DC, which is where a friend first asked him whether he would become a Reconciling United Methodist. He said yes. Now you're stuck with him.