June 4, 2016
Moment of Personal Privilege
Iowa Annual Conference
Sisters and brothers in Christ, in covenant, in connection:
I have been a United Methodist almost my entire life. When I was 4, my parents came to faith, and I was baptized in the United Methodist Church in De Ridder, LA. I was baptized, confirmed, called, commissioned, and ordained into this church. This has been my place of spiritual belonging, of vocational calling, my faith community, my faith home. I do not want to, therefore, go.
I am a self-avowed, practicing homosexual. Or, in my language, I am out, queer, partnered clergy. I know this is not news to most, if any, of you. But by simply speaking this truth to you, aloud, here, I could be brought up on charges, face a formal complaint. I could lose my job, lose my clergy credentials, lose my space of spiritual belonging, of vocational calling, my faith community, my faith home.
I cannot begin to describe the persistent pain and weary wounded-ness of being raised in and called to a church that continues to call my being and my loving a chargeable offense, that continues to identify my being and my loving as incompatible with Christian teaching. I do not know if it is faithful or just plain foolish of me to continue giving my prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness to a denomination that continues to call me and so many I love an abomination, an issue, a divisive distraction. How can I be in honest study, prayer, and conversation within this connection when I am not, when we LGBTQ people are not, safe to speak the truth of our living, and our loving?
This institution is instilling in me and other LGBTQ people some horrible, harmful untruths. That we are unloved, and unlovable. That we are unworthy. That we are incompatible, disordered, divisive. That at our core, at the core of our created-ness, there is something shameful, sick, sinful.
That, friends, is incompatible with Christian teaching. Allegiance and adherence to unjust laws in incompatible with Christian teaching. Welcoming us and our ministry only if we hide, be quiet, and stay in the shadows is incompatible with Christian teaching. Isolation and oppression are incompatible with Christian teaching.
“Don’t ask, don’t tell” does not equal justice. Silence does not equal support.
How can the hand say to the foot, Therefore go, I have no need of you? How can the ear say to the eye, Therefore go, I have no need of you?
It’s time. It’s so long past time. The Spirit is calling, moving, inviting. No more crumbs. Stop the complaints, stop the charges, stop the prohibitions, stop the harm. Justice delayed is justice denied. Be the church. Now. Be the Body of Christ. May it be so.
Rev. Anna Blaedel is an ordained elder in the Iowa Conference of The United Methodist Church. A graduate of the University of Iowa, Pacific School of Religion, and a current doctoral student at Drew University, Anna serves as the campus minister/director of the Wesley Foundation at the University of Iowa. She is a child of God, and #CalledOut.