- by Greg Gray -
I never thought I would marry a non-Methodist! I am a cradle Methodist. I was born into Union Chapel UMC on a small, two point circuit, grew up in Monroe First UMC, attend Candler School of Theology, and work as the Director of Music Ministries at Haygood Memorial UMC. Growing up my grandmother would joke (FYI, I still use this joke today), “There are only two types of people in the world: Methodists… and atheists!” I believed her. So, I always knew that I would meet, fall in love, and marry a Methodist person…just as God intended!
But then I met him! He was working at Loganville First UMC as their Asst. Pastor, and directed their music just like me. What could possibly be wrong? The Rev. Jonathan Chapman is ordained in the United Church of Christ. He was born into and grew up in Fairburn UMC, and all of his family are still United Methodists, but Jonathan received a call to ministry. Let me be clear that Jonathan did not leave The UMC for only LGBT issues. However, he found a warm, inviting place to do ministry in the UCC, and was ordained in the UCC September 19, 2010. What a loss to The United Methodist Church! I like to believe that I am creative in worship, but there are things that he can do in visual worship that I would never even imagine. The ideas he has to engage new people and bring them into the church who have left the church or who have never had a relationship with the church are amazing. Couldn’t The United Methodist Church use someone like that?
I love him, and I love his ministry. But I am United Methodist, and it is now my job to make certain that those young, talented, LGBT persons who receive a call to ministry have a place in The United Methodist Church. I hear my friends at Candler say every day, “Do you think The United Methodist Church will change soon enough for me?” If the answer is no, then we have to lie, leave the ordination track, or look for a new denomination that will accept us and our weird Wesleyan theology. How many people have to live a lie? How many people have to struggle with their call to ministry, but never get ordained? How many talented pastors have to become Presbyterian, ELCA, UCC, MCC, and leave their void in The UMC?
Jonathan is now the pastor of Westfield UCC in Danielson, Connecticut, and we plan to be married there on December 6, 2014. I will work so that those couples who come behind us don’t have to say they can’t get married in a United Methodist Church. I will work so that the United Methodist clergy person who officiates our wedding will not have to worry if their credentials will be removed. I will work so that the talented individuals who receive a call to ministry will find a home, and I will work to make certain that everyone will find that “no matter who you are or where you are on life's journey, you're welcome here” with Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors.
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Greg Gray was born into Union Chapel UMC on a small 2-point circuit, is now a member of Monroe First UMC, and serves as the Director of Music at Haygood Memorial UMC. He graduated from the University of Georgia in 2008 with an AB in Speech Communication and in 2011 with an AB in Music (Voice), and is studying to obtain a Master of Divinity at Candler School of Theology. He also enjoys working for the United Methodist Church as the Athens-Elberton District Director of Lay Servant Ministries and the North Georgia Conference vice-chair of Lay Revitalization Ministry.