I remember the first Easter after taking Christology. It was hard, I struggled with all the historic and traditional theology and language used during the service. I could not claim the words because I had yet to define them for myself.
For a few years, I could not sing all the words in songs during worship. When I changed faith communities, I found my spiritual home at Valley & Mountain, where we strive to be inclusive and work hard to do so. I would say that we are usually successful in this endeavor.
As a seminarian at an intentionally ecumenical seminarian, words matter, but yet, I have learned that words can mean different things to different classmates and faith communities. I value inclusive language, but I am starting to value people’s different accessibility to the Divine.
A few weeks ago, I went to my friend, Edward’s church, Kingdom Family Worship Center. This pentecostal church stretches me in so many ways, to the dancing in worship, different style of worship, and being so participatory. It’s not a place where I immediately feel comfortable, I am uncomfortable and I know I stick out as a white woman, but yet, I am utterly welcomed. The language isn’t always inclusive, but yet, that’s not what the church is conveying.
Even though I am finding I am able to worship now without fully inclusive language, I need to accept my privilege. As a cis-gendered female, heterosexual and white, I have the luxury to roll with the language. I have listened to my close friends who the language hits hard and wonder why inclusive language isn’t being used here, in the context of General Conference where we are a big tent. I also wonder why I am not being effected as much as a card carrying (bought one from Hillary) woman, fierce feminist, and LGBTQAI ally or co-conspiritor.
My question has become this (please notice, I do a lot of questioning): If General Conference was truly conveying hospitality and inclusiveness, can we let inclusive language slide a little because we trust the intent? But how can we trust intent when our policy or polity excludes? As an ally, I need to remember my privilege in this and switch to my co-conspirator lens and be vocal for those who the United Methodist Church is not inclusive to.