I am an evangelist. I invite people to trust God with their whole being. For many years, my prayer has been to offer my own vulnerability in the struggle for LGBT inclusion. This prayer brings the challenge of being authentic on the journey.
As an openly lesbian United Methodist, my presence is “rewarded” with uncomfortable looks and hurtful situations. I can feel the hate.
But this vulnerability, this effort to keep my guard down, also allows me to worship with an open spirit and to sing the hymns in a way that fills my heart and soul for the good. I can feel the love as well. I am confident in Christ. I invite others to join me in faith.
The effort to educate, pray and cajole the UMC toward inclusion has been very important to me. I have committed my life and my passion to this for years. I have been faithful.
I think of Paul in Philippians 3. He was a role model for “righteous under the law, blameless”. Me too!
Then Paul divested from that way of thinking. He began to regard former place and privilege as rubbish. Paul put his trust in God, his faith in Christ.
Julie and I are church people; we have invested sacrificially in the United Methodist Church. But we are not to trust the church more than God. Our second class membership becomes a second class witness.
We need to worship in a place where we can invite others into the community — without warning them to keep their guard up.
We can no longer abide the duplicity of the UMC. We have had to go elsewhere—a neighborhood UCC–where we can invite others… to be authentic, to trust God, and thrive in the Spirit.
“Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13f.
Sue Laurie and Julie Bruno met at Edinboro UMC in Edinboro, PA. They will celebrate their 31 anniversary this fall. Sue earned her MDIV from Garrett-ETS in 1995 and was turned down for ordination because she is lesbian… and told them so. Sue and Julie have attended five General Conferences so far and given the witness their all. “We do miss those UM Hymnals and songbooks.”
I understand and respect your decision to divest. I also want you to know that your evangelism at the trial of Amy DeLong has given me the courage to disclose. Your words helped me to see why my presence had purpose. Thank you.