This is part 3 of a 5 part series sharing stories from RMN's recently published 2012 Annual Report.
- by Rev. Luis Reyes -
Back in 1995 after receiving news of my next appointment, it never crossed my mind that I would continue a process already under way to take a vote as a church to adopt a welcome statement to become a Reconciling Congregation.
As a Hispanic-American, I’m fully aware of what discrimination can do to anyone who is experiencing it – it can truly make you feel like you are not equal or you are second or third-class citizen. But it is even harder when you have to experience that exclusion in the life of the church.
So, in the midst of our becoming Reconciling, I found myself re-energized to continue working against all forms of exclusion in the life of the church. This was not easy. As one of the first Hispanic-Americans who served a Reconciling Church in the Northern Illinois Conference, I was viewed at the time by some of my peers in the Hispanic community as a radical, one who didn’t respect the “established order.” In some ways I experienced “excommunication.”
But through RMN, I found other clergy—straight allies and LGBTQ clergy—who were also committed to working against exclusion. I remember my first Convocation, the now Bishop Minerva Carcaño challenged us to stop the status quo. So, alongside my LGBTQ brothers and sisters, something has changed in me, thanks to RMN. There is a renewed sense of empowerment to lead the church to tear down all forms of barriers that exclude God’s children from ministry in the life of the church. Integrating these core values of RMN and my Christian faith in my life and ministry is one of the high life moments of my journey.
. . .
Rev. Luis Reyes is the pastor at First United Methodist Church in Lombard, Illinois.