I find myself in the middle of great conflict within my head, heart, and soul.
As I’ve written before, I’m still grappling with the reality that my countrymen elected an ignorant, racist, misogynist, selfish, immature, dangerous man to the highest position of our government. Since then, he has done nothing to reassure me and many, many (too many to count) things to reaffirm my conviction that he is not, in any way, competent to lead any country. My feelings on this range from anger to hope to despair to disbelief on an almost daily basis.
Now, I’m also facing a crisis in my choice of church denomination. There is no doubt that I am a Christian and strive to live as Christ taught the apostles and disciples. My faith in God has not been touched by my current feelings of loss and anger. What is being damaged is my faith in the United Methodist Church.
I came to the UMC through marriage but have grown to love and support the church through time and events over the past years. I’ve questioned and read and participated in the church. I’ve made a faith-home with Monumental UMC. I love my church family and support the many loving acts that we, as a church and as individuals, do.
But, now, the church is dealing with the very real fact that it’s rule book, “The Discipline” specifically excludes the LGBTQ community. Many UMC leaders and lay people have spoken out requesting a change in this archaic position. Unfortunately, in my opinion, many have spoken in support of the position. It was a hotly debated issue brought before the 2016 annual conference. A decision was made to create a commission to study the issue and determine the “way forward” regarding the issue. The “Way Forward” commission is currently working on this now. A date for a special conference has been set for 2019. I was not happy that it would take so much time to conclude what I feel is a simple choice for the future of the church but recognized that institutions move slowly (if at all) toward change and the future.
Now, I’m struck by the recent ruling from the United Methodist Judicial Council against the consecration and appointment of a gay Bishop. I see this as a sign that the church is comfortable with the status quo. I understand the “law of the church” as it currently stands. I understand that it takes time to change institutions. I understand that we have a special commission to study the issue and report at a called conference in 2019. So we have to wait. Well, then, we should all be waiting. Waiting before any other rulings come down on this issue. Waiting until a final decision is made before continuing action based on a rule that is in dispute.
So, where do I go from here? I’m grappling with what God would have me do. The question I am asking is, ” do I stay or do I go?”
More specifically, “can I do more to support the LGBTQ community by leaving the church and going to a church that is more inclusive?” Does leaving, as many are wont to do, send a strong message to the United Methodist Church that they are “being left behind” due to their unwillingness to embrace love in all its forms? Does shrinking membership numbers indicate that they have become obsolete? Is this a meaningful way to make a difference?
Or, “should I stay in the church and work toward change?” Is it wrong to think I can make a difference if I leave? Is there anything meaningful that I can do as a member? Will my voice be heard?
The answer has not come to me yet. I will continue to pray and study until I know that my decision is based firmly on the direction that God is calling me to choose. Please, pray for me because I am struggling with my emotions and need all the help I can get.