Latham UMC, "I cried, and my body shook uncontrollably, but I stayed ...
"I was born to rock the boat
Some may sink but we will float
Grab your coat - let's get out of here
You're my witness
I'm your mutineer"
This morning I was struggling with what direction to take with my life. My personal struggles often wear me down. Many people think I have a salary for the work I do every day. I don't. I am poor financially but rich of heart. I was wondering how long I can continue serving others with no plans for my own future ... no regular income, savings, investments, ... none of the things other professionals of my age most often have in place for their day to day survival and future. I was telling myself I will give my current path 1 more year ... not even knowing how I can do this. Then I followed through with my plan for this morning and attended Latham United Methodist Church with my new friends Jim Teed & Leisa Teed who are members there. Today's sermon topic was getting a fair amount of attention locally ... "Human Rights vs. Christian Values". I have always felt welcomed & loved by the members of Latham UMC that I've gotten to know. There is a lady named Jane who is love manifested in a lady's body. David Thompson, a former Associate Pastor there is a dear friend and a member of the board of directors at GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services. Jim & Leisa Teed are a beautiful loving and genuinely accepting couple that I met recently.
I had HIGH Hopes for the message today. Here me say that I know WITHOUT any doubt that Rev. Hughey Reynolds & Rev. Chris Martin had good intentions as they prepared the message. They took a courageous step even though for many of us this step would be difficult to recognize. It is because I recognize their good intentions and the courage it took to do what they did that I am striving to turn the intense pain and overwhelming sadness I felt as a gay visitor into love and a renewed commitment to build relationships, to have conversations, to work to tear down walls of misunderstanding and ignorance. You see, I was hurting for the countless gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, & queer individuals that would have been devastated by what I heard this morning. . . that HAVE been devastated when they heard this at other churches. I believe they intended to present what they felt was a progressive message about love and 'tolerance' but you see, I don't want to be tolerated. I deserve acceptance.
After the service Jim, Leisa, and I remained in the Sanctuary ... I was devastated by the disappointment I felt after hearing what I hoped would be a message that connected Human Rights to Christian Values. Instead, Leviticus & Romans were the scriptures quoted to show homosexuals as an abomination. I thought I was ok until after the service when I broke down in uncontrollable tears and I could not stop my body from being literally rocked with sadness.
What followed was an opportunity that made me realize once again why I live the life I live ... why I have been given this life to live. The two Pastors saw me. The Senior Pastor already knew who I was and why I was there. They came over and even in tears the first thing I did was hug Rev. Reynolds and tell him that we needed to talk more. I told them both that my pain was not for myself but for the community I represent ... for those people who may not be as secure as I am ... for those that would have left the church feeling totally unwanted, unaccepted, unloved, regardless of their good intentions. With Jim & Leisa giving me encouragement and reminding me that this is why I was there ... I took the opportunity to share openly and honestly my feelings that the scriptures used were used inappropriately and were damaging. I cried and cried and my body was shaking uncontrollably but I stayed and we had the conversation.
I know why I exist, I know why I struggle, I know why I lose sleep, I know why I am here ... it is to be a shining light of love & hope. It is to be a voice for those who are afraid, hurt, and isolated.