Saturday, July 26, 2008

Being Away...

So, after 3+ months, I am posting again.

It's been quite a time. In April, just after my last post, The Beau and I decided to take the plunge and finally move in together. As he has a fabulous condo and I had been renting a ramshackle flat next to a fairly grungy bar (not in the Nirvana sense, either), we have consolidated lives at the condo. (It's going very well. No dead bodies yet, no massive meltdowns - OK, one moderately hysterical one, but it couldn't be helped.)

For those of you who've read old posts of mine, you know that I have been a member of the United Methodist Church for most of my life. A friend of mine jokes that both she and I were Methodist in vitro. But recently, I've taken a break. A sabbatical, if you will, although the irony of the etymology of that word is painfully apparent.

You see, as a matter of official doctrine, the United Methodist Church (UMC) is OK with having gay congregants, accepting their time and donations, but they won't ordain them. Well, that's not quite fair - they subscribe to the liturgical version of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell".

So, if you don't tell your bishop or other church leader that you are a well-adjusted, caring homosexual in a loving, committed relationship, you can perhaps have the opportunity of being posted to lead a Methodist congregation and continue to serve the community at large.

Just don't be happy or a good role model or open and sharing of your experiences. Keep that to yourself, please.

Or we'll have to dispatch you from the pulpit.


It gets better.

The following is directly from archives of, and while I acknowledge that each section is quoted out of its greater context, it is no less troubling. Until recent years, I had only been vaguely aware of the Church's official stance; seeing it in print is...well, heartbreaking.

For nearly 20 years, church law as recorded in the Book of Discipline has included a ban on the ordination of "self-avowed practicing homosexuals" and has espoused "fidelity in marriage and celibacy in singleness." And while acknowledging the "sacred worth" of homosexuals, church law condemns homosexual practices as "incompatible with Christian teaching."

And my life is incompatible with Christian teaching? I thought I'd lived a fairly decent Christian life - now, I don't want you to think that I have lost faith. My faith is strong and sure and deeply personal. But I have lost some great measure of faith in the UMC. And that hurts too.

The dichotomy of espousing fidelity in marriage but denying marriage rites or even union blessings to gay couples is at the very least contradictory. I don't know if any of you've ever come across this reference, but it speaks louder to me now than when I first heard it 20 years ago:

"We have forced gay people into the red-light districts, forced them to meet each other in bars and lurid places - then we call them promiscuous sinners." Adele Starr, founding President of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)

Jus this week in the weekly newsletter, our new choir master wrote an eloquent appeal to the congregation to consider joining the choir. I do miss the music, but not in the way that I thought I might. There was a time in my life, not so long ago, that despite whatever I was facing in my life, however deeply my faith and belief was challenged, that music lifted me up. I cannot begin to count the times in my life at Rayne that were full of grace through music. But for now, those strains have been silenced.

And for now, I am here. Not so very far away, but no longer where I was.


9 comment(s):

Jenn in Holland

Hesitating as I open this comment box to type so I don't leave a post length comment in this section... Breathe.... And...
Shit. I hate this. I really, really hate this. Why this is an issue is so far beyond my understanding. I am actually hardly able to get my mind around it anymore to be honest: this archaic idea that homosexuality is wrong, odd, or unwelcome. Get a fuckin' clue world! Embrace us all for who we are. I believe God does, I really do. And by god I don't mean that guy in the "CHURCH" mind you, BUT GOD that which is grander than our understanding, and that which doesn't have stupid arbitrary rules of acceptable behavior and a strict code of conduct to which we must conform.
I am mad for you Ambassador. This is the issue over which I left my church too and to be honest this issue lost me my faith as well.

Hmmm...still so much to say and yet I will shut up now.
But I am fuming.


That is insane. There is noting else to say.

Glad to have you back in the blogging world.

painted maypole

Unfortunately the Lutherans are the same. I know at least one fantastic pastor who left the ministry because of it (when he left his congregation was like "dude, we all knew you were gay and that C was more than your friend, we don't care! come back!") I think Episcopals are the only mainline denomination that aren't. I do believe that the UMC has a reconciling ministry that is trying to open up the church and change it's official stance, yes? have you tried getting involved with them? maybe that would help to direct your hurt in a positive way. it's so hard because we are called to be in community, but when a community is so biased against a part of itself, well... i don't know. the best thing I can say is to try to effect change in that community.

one thing I have found in the church is that you have to find the congregation that fits you, and sometimes the greater church does things that pisses you off to no end, but I believe that God calls us to stay and work within that.

I'm glad you are not losing faith over this. As you know I strongly believe that God loves you just the way you are. I think your congregation does, too.

And that quote... I may have heard it before. If not I've heard similar sentiments elsewhere (actually, I read a book about a woman whose son was gay and she wrote it after he died, something with bobby in the title... oh, I can't remember! anyhow, that's where I seem to associate that idea with)

it's nice to have you back, and writing thought provoking posts, no less! :)


Jenn -

Thanks for the affirmation. Ha! I just made myself laugh with that one. Oh, well...

It's still almost not real to me - I got an email last week from the pastor, reaching out to me, wanting to know if she had done or said anything wrong. I wrote back to her, and some of that made into this post...but, oddly, I still haven't gotten a reply from her.

Draw your own conclusion to that.

Jodi - good to hear from you too. Insane, and hypocritical. Ah, sweet hypocrisy...

Jenn in Holland

So, I've been thinking about this all night and day (even as we are traveling to holiday destination) and though I don't have anything new to say, I wanted to tell you that I am still fuming over the notion. I shouldn't be since really the 'doctrine' is not a surprise to me, but why-oh-why can't our (society) minds catch up and grasp reality?
Y'know, as soon as you start a church of your own where ALL are welcome to worship, be ordained and have full communion and fellowship, I will be right there at your side.
Folks like us need a place. I am telling you.

Jenn in Holland

(and by folks like us, I am of course referring to "THOSE WITH BIG MINDS") ahem.


PM - It seems like the UMC has done nothing BUT talk about it for the last 20-30 years. "Now let's form a committee to plan a way to forge a dialogue that won't make any changes to the Doctrine, but will make it seem like we are addressing the issue but not really."

Really. This is a "Duh!" issue. What year is this? For me, it really has come down to this: either you want me there, or you don't. Which is it?

And don't get me wrong - I don't feel like I have to be a part of any congregation to still be a person of faith, living in grace. It's never been that way for me.

Jenn - Can I just tell you how much I adore you? One of the great gifts of friendships is to be able to feel passionately indignant on the other's behalf. Thank you for that - can't wait to see how this appears for you in a post soon...


soccer mom in denial

So I'm only just now weighing in since the events of July 27th have me in a tailspin. Could your timing have been more spooky?

I actually do think people need to pay attention to what their "big church" says. I can't tell you how frustrating it is to be surrounded by "cafeteria" religious people - people who pick and chose what they like about their religion but don't follow what they don't like - and have them defend their churches. If you believe in birth control, the right to marry who you love, and the right of others to believe what they want/need, then you need to either challenge your church from the inside or leave.

I am sorry for the Methodist Church. They are losing a terrific man.

Flower Child

I'd say join the Presbyterians in NY or Episcopalians in DC but that would pose geographic problems. Very much sucks - I would hate to denied membership based on who I love. So unreal.

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