- by Lewis Eggleston -
I chose to write this down as my way to articulate how I feel about my decision. The only other instance where I took the time to write it out was when I came out to my parents. Hopefully that provides a context for how important this decision is to me and how I feel about this break-up with my former church.
Not having been raised a United Methodist I made the conscious decision to become one in college after I saw God working in my campus ministry. It was this Reconciling church that I came “out” to, even before my own parents. First United Methodist Church, was my home and my chosen family. I had never before felt such unconditional love in community that I was changed, I would even say, “my heart felt strangely warmed.” I learned how to shift my inward focused lens, outward. I began to see beyond myself and see my neighbor, and care for my neighbor. This church inspired me to join Americorps, leading to becoming a Children’s Case Manager at a shelter, and finally to seminary. However, my home church, does not reflect the attitude of the entire United Methodist Church.
My partner is a Captain in the Air Force, who was an active witness and participant in “Don’t ask, Don’t tell.” In the same way, The United Methodist church is asking me to participate in this policy. The truth is, before the historic events of this summer, I probably would have still sought ordination if DOMA and Prop 8 had been upheld. As a member of the LGBTQ family, we are often told that we are “lesser.” So I probably would have still stayed in the church.
But things are different now. My partner and I have been together for a few years and I anticipate the day we can get married. (Hopefully soon!) If The United Methodist Church doesn’t hold up my love, or my pastoral ability, why should I cling to it? Should this relationship be so one-sided? My answer is No.
I will not live in fear of my ordination board finding out. I will not “sneak around” or “dodge” questions attempting to appear straight for the ordination board. I will not hide any longer. My fight is not with my church. My fight lies with the structures that keep people living on the margins of society. Ironically enough, The United Methodist Church.
I pray for strength for all the advocates and allies fighting for inclusion of every human being in The United Methodist Church. You will need it and God loves you for it!
For now, my future church relationship will be one that is healthy, where both sides want and deeply care for the other. Best luck in the future.
. . .
Lewis Eggleston is currently a seminary student at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA. He is studying in the Masters of Divinity program with an emphasis in Political Theology and Community Organizing. Also, serving as a seminary intern in a Congressional office in Sacramento working alongside the Faith Community who strive to advocate for marginalized persons.