Why some are choosing to stay in The United Methodist Church...
by Rev. Cheri Holdridge
I serve a broken church
I serve a broken church. This should not be news. We live in a broken world. We serve a savior who gave his life on a cross and showed us that out of death God brings new life. But this brokenness is avoidable. The United Methodist Church has had multiple opportunities to seek healing and reconciliation and yet we remain broken.
On November 15 our Council of Bishops asked its President to file a complaint against one of our own, retired Bishop Melvin Talbert.
Then on November 19, Rev. Frank Schaefer was suspended for presiding at the marriage of his son and another man. At the end of 30 days Rev. Schaefer must agree to uphold the entire Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, thus agreeing not to perform any more same gender weddings, or he must surrender his clergy credentials. During the trial Rev. Schaefer stated:“I cannot go back to being a silent supporter.” He would not promise not to quit officiating at same-sex weddings.
When situations like the call to charge Bishop Talbert and the suspension of Rev. Schaefer come up, people often ask me, “Cheri why don’t you and your friends leave the United Methodist Church? Isn't it like staying in an abusive marriage?”
This is my answer. The United Methodist Church is our church too and we believe that our LGBTQ brothers and sisters are full members. We believe they are full members because we believe what Jesus said: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” We believe they are full members because our founder John Wesley had a heart for those whom society pushed to the margins.
We ARE the United Methodist Church. A shrinking number of United Methodists in the United States, and a growing number of our members in others countries that are more oppressive to LGBT folks, still hold the majority at our every four year General Conference, where our laws could be revised. But the General Conference does not own our souls and it does not own our ministry together. I am a Methodist in my actions and in my way of serving God. I will keep being a Jesus follower in the Methodist/Wesleyan way. I will honor and value every child of God: gay, straight, transgender or bisexual. The General Conference may or may not catch up. So be it.
So, yes, I serve a broken church. But the world is broken too. God is still a God of love. For this, I am grateful.
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Reasons I Stay is a project of Reconciling Ministries Network dedicated to share the stories of individuals who have decided to stay in The United Methodist Church despite its descriminatory, unjust, immoral rules against LGBTQ persons. It is part of the Biblical Obedience movement sweeping across The United Methodist Church. We recognize that staying is not the right and healthy choice for all people, and we celebrate those too who have chosen to leave to more inclusive faith communities. You can read all the Reasons I Stay stories here. We invite you to submit your own story to Reasons I Stay.