*** For those of you in the DSW Conference, no I do not know anything that you don’t. I am just experiencing some anxiety mixed with hope in light of the vote we are about to have this coming Thursday. If I have concerned you because of my personal fear, I am truly sorry. It’s just a prayer that reflects my own anxious nature. Blessings and peace…and perhaps prayers that we will all be less anxious. ***
I did what I thought was right. I read their theological exams and I expected from them what I expect from any candidate for ministry: honesty and theological robustness. I expected them to write their exams like they were writing papers for seminary, in conversation with the Scriptures and with the theologians that they studied. I interviewed them Lord, and I tried hard not to give them breaks that I wouldn’t have given to other candidates. I did my best to be thorough, firm, and fair…and then I voted my conscience and I approved them.
I approved two LGBTQIA candidates for commissioning and admission to the clergy of the United Methodist Church.
I was proud that day and certain that my colleagues would join me in celebrating their entry into full time ministry. I was certain that our entire conference would celebrate our stand for justice and equality in ministry.
Today I am not so certain. In fact, today I am afraid.
I am filled with fear that my conservative colleagues will unite and stand against these two people. I fear that they will block their entry into full time ministry. I fear they will vote against them, but not because they aren’t fully prepared, and not because they aren’t theologically articulate, but solely because they are LGBTQIA.
That’s not the right reason, Lord. You have given us ample evidence that You call the weak and foolish to show your strength and wisdom. Goodness knows you called ME and there isn’t much that is weaker or more foolish than I am.
My stomach hurts and I want to cry.
I want to believe that I serve a church that is just and wise. I want to believe that I serve in a conference that will stand for justice even when it means that we will be hated by other conferences within the larger Methodist church. I want to believe that you are leading the Desert Southwest, and eventually the entire Methodist Church, into new spaces of equality and tolerance that our church has never known before.
But I’m so afraid that I’m wrong in what I believe. I’m afraid that I’m about to watch these two poor souls be crushed when they are turned away and labeled unclean and unfit for ministry only because of the way they love.
All I can do, Father, is to put the whole thing into your hands and beg you to have your way with our conference. Let your Spirit move as the clergy votes over these two who have submitted themselves to your will and put themselves into your hands. Protect them from any harm should my colleagues choose to reject them. Never let these two children doubt for one moment that You have chosen them and nothing else matters.
You alone can stop the prejudice and fear that runs in the hearts of those who would reject the children you call just because of who and how they love. Grant me the grace to forgive them for their fear, because you know that I am also consumed with fear. Grant me the grace to remember that they are only trying to do what is best for the church, just as I am trying to do what is best for the church.
Grant us…grace. Lots and lots of grace…because we are going to need it in abundance.
Father God, today I am afraid. But I am trusting that you are bigger than this entire issue, and that it matters even more to you than it does to me.
Thanks for listening. I needed to get this off my chest. I might need you again later, because this fear doesn’t seem to go away and it keeps threatening to leak out of my eyes and run down my face.