grad school personal social justice united methodist

leaving the process, finding authenticity

The following was originally posted via my Facebook profile.

My life is in transition… and it wouldn’t be complete without some major decisions. The biggest is the conclusion that I am leaving the ordination process. Here are some thoughts I have:

“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?” Isaiah 58:6

I have struggled and loved The United Methodist Church from a young age. It has fed me, held me, shown me how to live out faith, to answer the call to grace, and yet, I still struggle.

I have resisted the cookie cutter answers of my youth and then (and still) with how the church has acted in terms of justice. When I was 16, a former pastor of mine, the man who taught my confirmation class, had the courage and audacity to come out in front of our annual conference. Mark Williams’ actions profoundly changed my life in how I interact with the church and the world. Injustice had occurred and I could not be complacent. The church and the world needed to change.

As a young adult, I stayed with the church. I worked for my conference office and even dabbled in local church work, but that layer of resistance was there. Because first and foremost, I am a resistant reader, I am a dreamer of hope and possibility, called to name my privilege, help others discover their God-given gift of human agency, and to seek justice.

I am in my last month of seminary and after four intense years of study, I know what I am called to. For me, being an advocate for women’s reproductive health, choice, and justice issues is my passion and vocation. To use my voice to amplify others, to agitate the church, and have hard conversations about sexuality and be prophetic. I know that reproductive issues are a hot topic and an uphill battle, one that I am ready for. I want to bring a compassionate presence and deep listening, so that maybe some bridges between sides can bring dialogue.

Discernment has illuminated something for me, that my call is best served not as an ordained deacon, but as a theologically trained lay person using her voice to seek justice, loud and clear. Nothing will stifle my voice. As I came to this hard and difficult position, a weight was lifted and I felt at peace. Nothing can argue with a bodily reaction and the Spirit at work.

I love The United Methodist Church. I am called to change the church, but that looks radically different than when I started the candidacy process in 2009. Ministry happens in many shapes and sizes, and I have realized that I do not need the power of a collar, but have my own power, God-given agency that I am emboldened to use.

As Martin Luther said, “Here I stand, I can do no other.” I’m deeply, utterly United Methodist and will change the church, but as a laywoman continuing the tradition of all the prophetic women before me.

3 comments on “leaving the process, finding authenticity

  1. Pingback: good christian sex part 3: my failed “purity” + rethinking celibacy – reclaiming my initials

  2. Pingback: Wesley staff member and laywoman to be consecrated as Deaconess | Wesley Theological Seminary

  3. I think that something else I have learned both before I was ordained (and I was already 40 when I was ordained) and since I surrendered my credentials is that the United Methodist community, on its own and like any other faith community, is profoundly insulated from the realities of the world. There is a great value for someone like you speaking truth to power. I am worldly wiser as a server and a former restaurant manager than I would be as a pastor. No offense to all you pastors our there.

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