Almost two years ago, I was fortunate to go to a Western Methodist Justice Movement conference in Lake Tahoe. It was around the time where I was figuring out my calling and honing in on my specific area of social justice, and I was looking to connect. All the pieces came together and I was able to go on scholarship. Those scholarships and financial contributions changed my life in so many ways, and that’s when I met Benz.
Benz to put it lightly is a total badass. I want to be like Benz when I grow up in so many ways. She has dedicated her life to seeking justice through her work with unions and organizing as one of the founders of Methodists in New Directions fighting for inclusion. She isn’t afraid to use her voice for justice and because of women like her, I have models to look to when my voice goes quiet.
The first day of General Conference plenary, Benz was one of the only women to speak on the floor. She represented the concerns of the infamous Rule 44, was persistent, respectful, and spoke out because it was needed. Then this morning (because Rule 44 still hadn’t been voted on), she added an amendment which addressed something important.
Rule 44 (for a wonderful post about it, visit Hacking Christianity) essentially creates a voice for all the delegates and breaks people into small groups with moderators (being so simplistic here). Benz motioned (correctly) to add language around creating those small groups as sacred and safe space, where people could speak frankly and honestly without the threat of charges being made against them. This is a totally valid concern. It needed, and needs, to be addressed.
Since she has been speaking and tweeting (@drbenz3), she caught the attention of someone and a tweet was aimed at her: So Dorothee Benz doesn’t want #umcgc delegates to file complaints vs #umc clergy who admit breaking covenant. She cannot silence us, & won’t
Please note lack of period at the end. Beyond that. The author of said tweet is a white, cisgendered man, heterosexual… he has all the privileges that centuries upon centuries of patriarchy has built for him on the backs of those who have been marginalized.
I have privilege and need to be a better ally too. Benz lives justice, Benz embodies justice, Benz follows the radical model of Jesus, and Benz is a beloved child and reflection of God.
When I saw that tweet, I froze. I was angry (I am angry), but I didn’t know what to do. The oppressor is claiming to be oppressed. The church has not been inclusive, therefore we have marginalized our LGBTQIA sisters and brothers, and those who do not fit a gender binary. The very thought that Benz is oppressing a white, heterosexual, cisgendered man is ridiculous.
The picture is property of Snarky Pastor and is of said pastor, Benz, and Carol at a Black Lives Matter protest in New York City, December 2014.