morning has broken for you

It’s been a few weeks since I declared to the world that my humanity was broken, a week since I proclaimed some humanity healing, and I am still thinking about my brokenness and Communion.

Communion is a source of stress for me as someone who is gluten-free. It’s hard feeling unwanted and unloved at the table because my body genetically cannot deal with gluten. It’s harder still to come to the table to a rice cracker loving bought at CostCo, but do not realize it’s the cheese flavored one (Bad for two reasons: also diary-free and cheese doesn’t go well with grape juice). To distill down my feelings on not being able to take communion in a congregation, Communion is union, and not having one body because the gluten-free bread is to the side is not union.

How do we come to the table? As a United Methodist we have an open table where all are welcomed. We break the bread and pour the grape juice to share with everyone. My humanity has been broken for you and not everyone is able to come to the table. That’s how I see it, the table is barred.

Barred for my sisters and brothers (and those who don’t fit the gender binary) who are bravely out and proud, the clergy who were #calledout in unsafe annual conferences, for women who have chosen that abortion is best for them, for women and children seeking an equal voice, and for those of us who want to protect the beauty of creation.

The table may not be open to all, but God’s creation is because morning has broken. The good news is that morning has also broken, the how I want my humanity to be broken for you. You cannot bar any of God’s creation from morning being broken and the mutuality of creation.

Morning has broken like the first morning; blackbird has spoken like the first bird. Praise for the singing! Praise for the morning! Praise for them, springing fresh from the Word!

Sweet the rain’s new fall sunlit from heaven, like the first dewfall on the first grass. Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden, sprung in completeness where his feet pass.

Mine is the sunlight! Mine is the morning born of the one light Eden saw play! Praise with elation, praise every morning, God’s recreation of the new day! 

If we cannot be in union at Eucharist, we can be in communion in nature. As much as we tried to legislate at General Conference,  we cannot legislate God’s creation and bar parts of that creation from witnessing morning being broken.

I am choosing to my humanity to be broken, not like the bread being broken, but morning has broken. No one can take away morning being broken for you or me, The United Methodist Church cannot pass legislation that would prevent us from living in and with God’s creation.

Again, the good news is that morning has broken, and it will break for you every day. There is hope, there is creation, there is my humanity, and there is my hope.

Lyrics from Morning Has Broken come from The United Methodist Hymnal (ed. 1989) page 145. 

grieving after general conference

Before leaving for Portland I was listening to Beyoncé’s Lemonade non-stop. I kept thinking, started a blog, about brokenness and working through it all to something stronger. Queen Bey (and fellow United Methodist) names her own stages of grief:

  • Intuition
  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Apathy
  • Emptiness
  • Accountability
  • Reformation
  • Forgiveness
  • Resurrection
  • Hope
  • Redemption

I have been thinking about how can the church arise from grief and brokenness, and end up strong, in formation… since high school and I don’t have any answers.

This morning after having a minor freakout over countdown cards and measuring tape, I realized that I needed space. Thank God it was my soul sister friend who is amazing and asked me if I was grieving and what I was grieving. I texted back:

My innocence? I was never naive. I saw and heard the most unchristian things… And thought bad things.

I posted a status on Facebook and heard from multiple friends from Florida to Portland giving support through memes and wedding photos. The timing of GC with finishing my M.Div hasn’t been ideal, yet, I am supported in my grief. So here I am, trying to finish my Master of Divinity, while feeling the stings of witnessing and feeling spiritual abuse, but holding the hope of new and old friends.

I stand at the precipice of grief unexpectedly. I’ve already done this during the degree and I went through the stages, and from that brokenness became stronger. Now I need to move through the stages again. This time, blasting Lemonade.

we had a good view

Our hotel room was literally next door to the Oregon Convention Center and had the view above. Every single day without fail, and received in loving annoyance, Sara would say, “damn we have a great view”. Truth be told, we really did! Our curtains were only closed when we went to sleep as we soaked up every minute of the damn great view.

I feel like for the first time, I had a good view of General Conference and how the sausage was made. It’s not pretty, it looks good from afar if you aren’t listening and there are points of beauty, but it can be ugly. There are moments of mutuality and those are the pieces that hold us all together.

It is in those moments of beauty, connection, and mutuality that holds The United Methodist Church together by a thread. United we can do more and be global. The church does too much good, yet there are a few issues that need to be cared for. We punted on LGBTQ issues, on one hand we held onto women’s reproductive issues but also moved backwards, and we neglected to care of all of creation through divestment.

The United Methodist Church has issues with bodies. That’s what I am learning. Also, 25% of the church voted in favor of a discussion again evolution (I’m still in shock over this).

As my dear friend Chett said, we didn’t move forward, we didn’t move backwards, we took a step to the side.

I will be doing more reflection in the next few weeks, but first, I need to graduate with my Master of Divinity! I’m not leaving the church, but I am staying in it theologically trained with my bent towards social justice.

some humanity healing

Today during the morning worship, we were encouraged to have dialogue with people who may have different theological beliefs. I was running around and missed part of the sermon, but it seems like many took to heart what Bishop Elaine Stanovsky preached.

I wear a rainbow stole signifying that I believe in inclusivity in our church. During a break, two women came up to me seeking that dialogue which Bishop Stanovsky encouraged. I got to explain why theologically I am in support of inclusion and my belief in the Good News rooted in the radical love of Jesus. Somehow my knowledge of medieval church history and celibacy was included, well, there was a question why our LGBTQ clergy couldn’t just be celibate and it made sense in the conversation I promise.

No minds were changed, but for a small moment in time we met in the middle and it ended with a hug.

Then during my lunch break I had a wonderful conversation about how dialogue can be promoted at General Conference with a clergy delegate slash DS from the south. We disagreed on one thing, I’m a Coug and he was a Husky! But we talked about church planting and it was a great conversation creating a healthy dialogue. Just the time waiting in line at Burgerville gave me a glimpse of hope for the church.

How do we have these spiritually mature conversations where we can see each other’s humanity? Today I still mourn the loss of the church in the RCRC and am not sure how the church will look after today… but I am committed to dialogue with people who have different beliefs than my own. It’s hard, but necessary.

My humanity is still broken for you, but yet, like communion we come together to take of the bread and juice (we are Methodists). These hard conversations around my broken humanity point to unity, but how we get there is unknown.

pink heels & real conversation part 2

As highlighted before in Part 1, my pink heels remind me of my God-given agency, the freedom and freewill that I live through my Wesleyan lens of grace-centric faith.

I started Thursday morning in my stylish, yet comfortable black heels which matched my business suit. The day was going to be rough, so I was going to be professional (not that I am not usually professional, but business suit means business especially in ministry). As I headed into plenary, I was stopped several times asking where were the pink heels.

Most questions came from coalition partners and friends, but as I was heading to my seat after some quick meeting, a random man stopped me and asked, where are your pink heels today? I had been walking by this particular person all week and we had never exchanged words, but the power of the pink heels is magical.

I said that I was running around and needed more comfortable shoes because I was running around more, and literally these are the heels I can run in (you saw my talent in balancing in heels, applies to more than yoga-like moves). But it gave me pause.

As we inched closer and closer to the time where the RCRC would be debated, I got nervous. Finally since we were heading back to our hotel room during our lunch break, I decided game on, the heels were back. When I came back into plenary and walked past the man, I said, the heels are back and it’s because RCRC and abortion were going to come up.

After the vote and my anger tears, the man came up and asked about my heels. It lead to a real conversation about abortion, the RCRC, theology, discussion and deep listening, and the Spirit was present. This young adult man, father of three girls, clergy member is pro-life, but yet understands the need for RCRC. We disagree on abortion restrictions, both approach the topic Biblically rooted, and have a great love of Christianity. Although a relatively brief conversation, we talked about the need of similar conversations on the actual plenary floor, for honesty, integrity, and most of all, REAL CONVERSATION about women’s bodies.

My passion came through and I was heard, and I heard his cares, concern, and compassion. I shared about leaving the ordination process and how I wanted to speak prophetically. He actually said that it was really too bad and that people like me were needed, but he understood. We chatted about a few other things too (it was a long afternoon break).

Somehow, in the midst of debate and tears, frustration and anger, my pink heels lead me to hope. That people who disagree with me can have real conversations, discussions not debates. We saw each other’s humanity and started from a place of mutuality.

If I hadn’t put on my pink heels yesterday, maybe I would be in a different place now… but yet again the Divine has shown me hope, possibility, and wonder in the most mysterious way. Thank you so much to my new friend who embodied this for me. I will hold our conversation close for a long time.

pink heels & real conversation part 1

The past few days has been rough for me at General Conference. I have learned some tough lessons, but yet remain committed to social justice and The United Methodist Church. I’m pretty exhausted and a little cranky (sorry Sara & Kevin), though there are some bright spots.

Yesterday was my denim jumper with pink heels day. I stomped around and meant business, made some impressions with said heels. Now why pink heels.

I am not getting ordained and for years I put power in a clerical collar. When I decided not to get ordained, I realized I had my own power, my own God-given agency and didn’t need a collar for that. I have my bright pink heels that embody the fierceness of my agency… instead of a clerical collar.

The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) did not come up on Wednesday after the Bishops’ took some steps to lead the church forward. Human sexuality has been put on hold legislatively until a special General Conference, and we weren’t sure where abortion was going to fall. On Wednesday night it was obvious today, Thursday, was the big day for the RCRC vote and perhaps the Social Principle on Abortion would go on the floor even though there had been a deal struck in sub-committee between the two camps, somewhere Responsible Parenthood is in limbo. Needless to say, I woke up this morning knowing it was vital to have my game face on.

The morning brought great conversations for working in coalition moving forward, support for the work I have been doing, and the knowledge that we were most likely going to lose our RCRC membership as a church. What I wasn’t prepared for were my angry tears. Originally I wasn’t wearing my pink heels, but they went on before RCRC was to go before the body. I needed my pink heels to remind me of my agency.

We got word that the elected abortion/diversity sub-committee chair for Church & Society 2 was not going to be the person introducing the legislation removing the church from the RCRC. Although totally appropriate of the chair to do, that was a political move and in my opinion lacked integrity. It set the tone of the legislation and also gave the woman presenting extra time for speaking for the legislation (so against the RCRC) instead of providing a neutral tone. Again she called herself a feminist, but her actions do not align with the accepted definition of feminism.

Instead of honesty and actual facts, lies about the RCRC were shared on the floor by those supporting us leaving the RCRC. Thank God for Becca and her speech against using the talking points I helped prepare for that moment. Truth was spoken, but damage was done. Points of clarification, order, and whatnot were used, and we put up a good fight. But at the end, we lost our seat at the table of the RCRC.

I am angry. Women and girls in the church deserve better. This is just another attempt of men controlling the bodies of women behind thin veils of theology that does not recognize freewill and God-given agency given to ALL human beings including women. It’s about more than abortion. Abortion is a symptom of a larger issue, women having a say over our bodies. RCRC advocates for reproductive health, choice, and justice which isn’t all about abortion, it’s about women’s health both physical and spiritual. It’s about trusting women to be moral agents, to live into grace and make the decision which is best for ourselves and our families.

If I wasn’t awake before, I am more so now. I am in it for another four years. I am committed to ministry through being an advocate, a progressive faith voice, being and acting prophetically about reproductive health, choice, and justice issues. My pink heels aren’t going anywhere, and neither am I. 

So bring it those who attempt to strip women of our gift from God. You will not take me away from the table and I am going to get a lot louder believe you me. 

lifting hope

I am still United Methodist because the hope has not left me. I find hope and possibility in the radical Wesleyan theology of grace as a journey, as a means of experiencing God in creation, and the community I have found through my faith. I am more than just my faith, but yet, it’s always with me as I go.

This morning I am writing from Seattle, after a semi-full night’s sleep in my own bed. I am sitting with a classmate who greeting me with a long hug and support, now I sit beside her support her as she practices her final M.Div synthesis project. We are in our Tuesday morning spot, Caffe Presse, and the sun is shining. The morning light reveals a broken church that matches my not hidden broken humanity.  As a few tears fell as I drove to school, I focused on hope.

The above picture is of me and my former youth pastor, ex-boss, mentor, and good friend, Patrick. For years, Patrick has actually been one of the reasons I have stayed. The past 15 years have been trying for me to remained United Methodist and he has been there, helping me to process and theologically reflect. Patrick gives me hope (and he’s not going to let e forget that).

I find hope in Sara and Kevin (shown below a few days ago), who are my Methodist small group although by text chain IMG_8643because we all live in different cities. Their dedication to the church through mission, outreach, and justice soothes me and lifts my spirit. It is Sara who I room with, though Kevin is always hanging out. These are my people.

For Chett who is one of my rocks and always has my best interests at heart. Because of that fateful car ride and the Donner Party, I am at this point in my faith journey today and I am still committed to justice, more than I ever thought possible.

Weirdly enough, I find hope in forming new relationships. Meeting Jeremy of Hacking Christianity and having another person who appreciates my sense of humor and fashion. Having Joey pull me aside when angry walking to spin me around a makeshift ballroom. My new MFSA board member friends who I just met months ago, yet feel like I’ve known them for years, they check in with me and make sure I am grounded. Then to my new friend, Jacob who has reminded me why I carry a pen, you never know when someone can show you humanity when you need it. Then to my new repro colleagues, Mollie and Katey. I am not alone in my passion and I know I will not spend the next four years (or two) alone in speaking prophetically.

Hope abounds in brokenness. My humanity may be broken, but it’s not beyond healing.

One last story about my new friend, who I’m going to not name. She sat by me during a particularly bad part of Church & Society B’s committee. There was a point where it wasn’t healthy of her to be in the room and she left quickly, leaving behind her deaconess pin. I picked it up, knowing that she was about to be consecrated and that I am slowing trying on becoming a deaconess for size. I had her pin in my laptop bag, and I saw her the next day. I stopped her and said, I have this for you. She looked at me in surprise, the pin had represented her faith in the church and she had dropped it, yet I had carried it for her when she had felt like she lost it. That’s hope. I am sure one day, she will hold my hope for me.

If you pray, please pray for us. That hope and possibility are illuminated on this new day.

 

my humanity broken for you

I am dreading tomorrow. Not because The UMC Bishops’ are talking separation right now, but because I am going to school tomorrow. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my classmates, but as I drove from Portland to Seattle I found myself resisting. So I did what I do when I find weird resistance, I reflected.

The last few days I haven’t wanted to blog, I didn’t know what to say. As someone who goes to a faith community that is a UMC plant, we haven’t chartered yet and I am very aware of the UMC perceptions. Then as someone who goes to an ecumenical seminary, that’s where I pause. My friends who are not Methodist do not get the finer tunings of polity, it’s hard to explain. People just see our lack of inclusion (which is important to see) and often times I am reading about LGBTQIA+ with a breaking heart, with no where for my feelings to fall as an ally.

Here is my humanity broken for you. How am I supposed to tell my classmates in 5 minutes or less, because I am literally getting back in my car and driving back to Portland right after class, what I am feeling and seeing?

The sheer anger I have felt when listening to people from outside of the United States talk about my fellow human beings, where I hold space as an ally is a room where my empathy is suffocating?

Wanting to scream when a woman who is trying to take away a woman’s right to her body, her God given agency, calls herself a feminist?

Feeling repulsed walking by a man who is a gay conversation therapist, knowing that he is also a child of God, but I can’t stop thinking of a classmate who spent 18 months in one of those shameful programs.

How hard it was to hold back my anger and tears until I left the convention center, then when I got out I saw my opposition smiling in victory so I ran across the street trying to get to my hotel room before I really lost it?

Knowing my privilege, yet frustrated because I feel like women, children, and family issues are being neglected. That tension is real and raw for me.

I feel like my soul is bruised and battered, yet I still claim The United Methodist Church as my home. It’s beyond hard to love something so much, to identify with your very being, yet see so many negative things, and not be your best self at the same time.

My humanity is broken and needs grace. It needs to be healed, to remember the hope and possibility because tomorrow is a new day. Tonight I will dream and I will go to class, where I will be loved and lifted up, because I am human and I am broken.

Here is my humanity broken for you, yet, where there is God, there is grace, and there is a new day where resurrection can occur.

PS. I intend to write a post about where I see God and hope soon, promise.

 

climate change is real

I originally started this post yesterday, but the day got away from me and I will post about it later.

I love the sun, probably since I have grown up in the Pacific Northwest and am usually low on Vitamin D. I appreciate the sun and the warmth on my face, how my dog loves to sunbathe, and the fact it naturally lights my brunette hair. This year it’s been really nice, really early. As an avid walker, it’s nice to not always have to walk in the rain (which I actually love) all of the time.

My tan aside, these are signs that the climate is changing and it’s not good. On Thursday night, Fossil Free UMC sponsored the Climate Change Vigil. Churches from various corners of creation created prayer lanterns that were light by re-usable lights that will go to people in need, there were speakers from various churches that are experiencing the negative consequences of climate change. It’s always a good reminder to remember our impact on creation, beyond humanity.

We sing “Jesus, remember me, when we come into your kingdom”, but we are in the kin-dom and must remember going forward. Fossil Free UMC is trying to get the church to divest from fossil fuel and that is one small way we can go forward.

Divestment is an important first step and with the amount the church has invested in said fossil fuel stock, it can sting. But we need to do more!

umw for the win with responsible parenthood

This piece was originally written for the Love Your Neighbor Coalition newsletter for General Conference 2016. 

My favorite piece of legislation that impact’s women’s reproductive health is the updated resolution of Responsible Parenthood crafted by United Methodist Women. Unlike much of the legislation that impact’s reproductive issues, this resolution theologically articulates parenthood in a post-modern world in a way that can move the church forward in a variety of ways.

One thing that I love about this renewed resolution is that it is proactive; so much of what we do is a reaction so it is refreshing to see legislation thinking of the future. We need this resolution because provides the framework for a holistic and comprehensive model into what responsible parenthood looks like. It breaks down into five parts:

  • Biblical Basis for Families speaks of abundant life, and how the source of this is family: “The decision to have children is a decision to participate with God in the process of creation.” (DCA CS2 327) The decision to not have a child is just as important as there are many other ways to participate relationally with creation and that’s where contraception comes into play.
  • Contraception is next: “Use of family planning and access to contraception around the world has had a dramatic impact on empowering women, on women’s economic development, and overall public health. Maternal and infant moralities have been reduced. By controlling the number and spacing of their children, women have greater opportunities for education and economic participation, resulting in an enhanced quality of life for everyone.” (DCA CS2 328)
  • Barriers to Responsible Choice covers gender, financial, arranged marriage, spousal disproval, and lack of access and/or legal restrictions.
  • Challenging Pregnancies and how we can start thinking about ending a pregnancy under a different Biblical basis: “The creation of a child is an incremental process whose beginnings stretch back to the creation of earth’s first life, and whose milestones include conception, implantation, quickening, viability, and live birth. The Bible affirms breath as the mark of a living human person. While respecting developing life at every stage, we reject the simplistic belief that the moment when egg and sperm unite is the sole marker of human existence.” (DCA CS2 328)
  • It ends with mandates, which provide a call to action for education at the family level, local church level, and greater United Methodist connection.

This resolution is inclusive as it brings in the whole connection and doesn’t just focus on one country. Responsible parenthood is not only just about women, it’s about men too, and it’s about our larger faith community. It encourages dialogue and goes beyond face service to action, to seek justice and live out our Social Principle values. Those who are calling for the deletion of this resolution are citing their theological differences over abortion. The way to realistically approach responsible parenthood is to take into consideration rape, child brides, safety of the mother, socio-economics, and many other contextual factors. Removing this resolution based solely off issues with abortion writes off many other brilliant parts of the responsible parenthood framework.

What this resolution does not implicitly address is adoption, IVF treatments, and LGBTQ issues in terms of parenthood beyond inclusive language. It’s broad, yet there are other pieces of legislations that better and more specifically address these important issues regarding parenthood.

I fully support readopting the Responsible Parenthood resolution and it is my hope that you too will support this valuable and radical piece of legislation. As a young adult woman considering responsible parenthood in her future, I hope that The United Methodist Church will rally behind this legislation so that current and future parents have the love and support of our faith community.