Wednesday, February 27, 2019

United Methodist Memories

All my early memories of the United Methodist Church revolve around music.

I'm sitting with the other members of the children's choir, wearing my blue robe, and I'm so excited.  We're about to sing a song called "The Birdies in the Treetops" - and our kind-hearted choir director is letting my best friend do her really awesome "bird call sounds" before we start singing.  I see members of the congregation looking around, confused as to where the tweets and whistles are coming from.  I feel like I'm part of an inside joke, and I'm proud to be standing there next to her.

I'm older now, and I'm squeezed into the pews next to my family.  It's the Christmas Eve candlelight service, and it's my favorite.  We're all holding our candles, and passing the light down the pews. It feels exciting and dangerous to be holding "fire" in church.  Everyone's faces are illuminated in candlelight and we're singing ALL the verses of "Silent Night."   It feels peaceful and safe, and it's the only place I want to be.

Now it's the summer of 1997, and I think I'm the saddest I've ever been inside this church building.  Our pastors are moving away.  They are leaving, and I'm only 13 years old and I don't really understand why this is happening or how church assignments work.  The adult choir is singing:

May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand...

I feel choked up and heartbroken.


There's no music today, but I still feel heartbroken.  

Yesterday, delegates for the United Methodist Church voted to uphold the church's stance prohibiting LGBTQ+ members from being ordained. They also voted for a plan that does not allow same-sex couples to be married.  I'm not 13 any more... but I still don't understand. 

The church's official website proudly displays the words: "Open Hearts. Open Minds. Open Doors." I don't understand how ANY type of exclusion fits into that mantra.  

This past Christmas was the first year I took my daughter to a candlelight service.  I felt like she was finally old enough to sit still and enjoy the music. I was right. She liked it, and I'd like to take her again.  But she's also an inquisitive child.  

Just this morning, she asked me about Rosa Parks and why she was famous.  As I'm explaining the concept of segregation, she asked me what would have happened if someone with black skin and someone with white skin fell in love.  I explained that at that time, it would have been against the law in some states for that couple to get married and be together.  

She scoffed.  "What?  How can the people in charge tell someone who they can love?!?"

Well... supporters of the UMC's "Traditional Plan"... you want to answer that?

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