- by anonymous Duke Divinity School student -
A few months ago I made a promise to God and to myself that I would remain in the UMC ordination process as long as I could faithfully live into my calling and be faithful to who God created me to be. Early this week, I compromised both of my promises. Lord, forgive me for what I have done, and forgive your church for putting me in this position.
As a Masters of Divinity student at Duke Divinity School I am required to fulfill two field education placements during my three years of study, and his summer I am serving in a thriving United Methodist congregation in rural North Carolina. Along with a supervising pastor, a lay training committee is assigned to help the field education intern discern his/her vocational calling and get acclimated to life in the parish. This week I had my initial visit with my lay training committee, and as a whole it was a positive experience. They were intent on making me comfortable and genuinely wanted to get to know who I am and what God is calling me to do in ministry. We spent an hour together where they asked me questions about my vocation and discernment. One of the questions they asked me was, “What is the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do?”
A: Come out to myself, my family, and my friends.
I sat in silence for several seconds trying to come up with another answer. I wanted to tell them the truth. The process of coming out to my family, my friends, and myself was a tremendously difficult experience; and I wanted this committee to know that. I wanted to tell them about how I wrestled with my faith and my identity as I tried to reconcile my calling and my attraction to other women. I wanted to tell them about how I came to a new understanding of God’s love and grace when my parents accepted me as I am. I wanted to tell them about the gifts for ministry my friends saw in me as I made myself vulnerable to them. Instead, I told them about the second most difficult thing I have ever done.
I did not lie, but I did not tell the whole truth either. I was afraid they would reject me as their minister if I told the truth. I was afraid they would tell the people at Duke and my home conference that I am gay. I am afraid to be completely honest, because I do not want to be kicked out of the ordination process. Lord, forgive me for being afraid and not putting my hope and trust in you.
I love the United Methodist Church, but I hate the position it puts me in as I try to faithfully follow the path of ministry to which God calls me. I hate that I cannot tell the entire truth. I cannot settle for telling people part of my story, because it compromises my story, my calling, and who I am as a child of God. The “issue” of homosexuality in the United Methodist Church is not an issue. I am a person. My brothers and sisters in Christ are people. We want to live into the fullness of our callings, but the Church denies us the ability to fully live as the beloved children of God if we want to be faithful to the ministry God calls us to. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.