Often when I review blog posts for this weekly roundup, it takes me a while to see a theme emerging. And sometimes I never do see one. That was not the case this week, in the wake of the General Conference of the United Methodist Church. A significant portion of the 150 new blog posts this week were in response to the actions of the Conference.
Some were feeling the hurt and betrayal by the church they had claimed for a lifetime. Others were struggling with finding ways to be supportive friends and allies. And still others were feeling the damage done to the spread of the Gospel as all Christian denominations were tainted in the minds of the world. This Friday, we accompany some of our bloggers as they try to form a response to what feels like unimaginable violence.
In The Thoughtful Pastor, Christy Thomas watches from her seat in the press box. In the middle of profound grief that “the United Methodist Church just died,” a small but important question surfaces. Of the 833 persons eligible to vote, about 25 have declined to cast a ballot on any of the numerous proposals, amendments, or motions. “What are the rest of these people doing anyway? Do they have something better to do than hold the future of the UMC in their hands?”
United Methodist pastor Kathy Randall Bryant, writing in Quietly Rolling Thunder, punctuates her reflection with the poignant refrain, “I love this church.” Her deep love makes it all the more painful when she reflects “My heart broke this week when my church said that the United Methodist Church would continue to create a dividing line, excluding some of the very children of God I am called to love.”
Anjel Scarborough’s post in For the Innumerable Benefits recalls a time of serving a United Methodist Church. “In truth, I was a stranger and they welcomed me.” The love that grew out of that welcome prompts this prayer: “For those who would exclude LGBTQ folk from ministry based on your interpretation of scripture, I pray your hearts may be soften (dare I say “strangely warmed”) to listen deeply and humbly… For those in the LGBTQ community and your allies: I pray for healing grace to soothe your pain, to remember your are beloved of God… When I was a stranger, you welcomed me. I pray you find the way to welcome each other in the love of Christ.”
Members of other church bodies also felt the pain of the actions taken at the General Conference. Blogging at Everyday Thinking, Maria Tafoya shares this reflection: “My heart is broken. On Sunday I lifted up our sisters and brothers in the United Methodist Church who were facing a hard decision, a decision that would probably split the denomination no matter which way it went. Even knowing that, I really thought that the delegates voting would, as John Pavolitz says, err on the side of love. But instead the vote went the other way. The denomination voted to reject those members who are anything other than heterosexual cis-gendered persons.”
Deb Vaughn blogs at An Unfinished Symphony and has chosen to share a powerful video from the Religious Institute, along with this prayer: “To my beloved siblings in Christ in the United Methodist Church: I am grieved with you at the decisions made this week which exclude LGBTQIA clergy and members from full welcome and inclusion. I hurt for the things that were said on the floor and on social media that discriminated against you. I am praying for you. You are wonderful, gifted and Called to serve the Church and the World. You are needed. You are loved.”
What are we to do with all of this free-floating pain? As we each seek to process and respond in our own way, this idea is shared by Jan Edmiston in A Church for Starving Artists: she has designated Fridays as a No-Talking Day. “My Sabbath goal is to talk to no more than ten people every Friday… Quiet is a privilege and a luxury. There are places on the earth where people live in silence as a spiritual practice but most of us live in constant noise: horns, crying, cheering, yelling, talking, shooting, television, radio, barking. As I write this, the only sound I hear is my clothes dryer and it’s a comfort really.”
How are you responding to the events of this week? Please visit some of the 150 new posts this week by members of the RevGals blogging community; go to our web page (www.revgalblogpals.org) and look for the button labeled “Our Blogging Community.” As you visit, please leave a comment to offer your thanks and support for the work of these bloggers.
Barbara Bruneau is a retired Lutheran pastor, living in southeastern Minnesota. She is a knitter, a weaver, and a very occasional blogger at An Explosion of Texture and Color.
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