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Mo Lasses Blues, or, Baptism by Wading in DeNile.... - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
captainsblog
captainsblog
Mo Lasses Blues, or, Baptism by Wading in DeNile....
The end of this month marks, more or less, the one-year anniversary of two events in the life of my supposedly Christian church.  Both are stalled in stupidity, and are making me feel more and more like I need to channel my faith in another direction.

Our local congregation is run by a Lay Leaders Council, aka The Usual Gang of Idiots.  For two years, I was on it, ex officio, as chair of a personnel committee I was utterly unsuited to chair. (One good hire, one fire, and one replacement for the latter who- no shit- lasted less than an hour in the job.) This group was well-peopled and well meaning, but their Scripture was not the 66-volume set in the front of the room but a mix of Roberts Rules of Order and The Peter Principle. I started playing buzzword bingo at meetings with tickies for "mission statement" and "survey results" and similar sounding horsehockey.

By this time last year, I had rotated out of the job, thank gods, but I attended the last-Tuesday-in-July meeting anyway, as Just Plain Me. After some recent sad events at the denomination level which confirmed a continued determination to oppress and repress LGBT people within our faith, I became aware (through the good efforts of my one good hire, now moved on to a parish of her own) of a movement within United Methodism called the Reconciling Ministries Network. It challenges churches and their clergy to speak out against the anti-Christlike dictates of our Discipline by, for a start, developing Welcome Statements making LGBT people explicitly welcome within the church's doors. (The logical next step would be for RMN clergy to commit to breaking with capital-D Discipline and performing same-sex marriages, but like Jesus, we tend to report on only one miracle at a time.)

At the July 2013 Council meeting, I presented my idea- that we should, if not come out, at least STAND out as a body of Christ that really walks the walk and welcomes all. I got a mix of nods and stares and was asked to reduce it to a written proposal. This I did, adding a simple line of welcoming into our existing published-every-week Vision Statement:

As a village church, Williamsville United Methodist
faithfully continues the vision and tradition of our
founders by welcoming all people, including people
of all sexual orientations and gender identities,

to encounter Jesus Christ. We will nurture active fellowship
and participation through a variety of ministries that
encourage people of all ages to grow in a spiritual
journey with Christ.

I then told them: "It doesn’t even have to be bold in the bulletin. But it would be."

It's now a year later. The language has been sifted, circulated, revised, copied in triplicate, given two months of- what else?- a congregational survey, voted on again, and SOME version of it, allegedly adopted at a meeting in the winter, was to be promulgated. Except it hasn't- and my last two gentle prods of the Pastor about its status (he has otherwise been very supportive of the effort) have gone unanswered.

There's another meeting of that Council tomorrow night. Lord and Schedule willing, I will attend it again, and give it my final shot. Failing that, I will commit my local church membership and lay speaking credentials to the first UMC in this District-be it eventually us, or across the 290, or in East Otto- to get its head out of its sacristry and adopt the RMN language.

Eleanor, who tired of this old lot close to a year ago, referred to my efforts as reminding her of guys she knew wasting their time on a bad girlfriend, who isn't going to change no matter how much the guy wants her to. That's one conclusion of hers I find completely healthy.

----

It's no better, or faster, at the level of our conference (the Methodist equivalent of a diocese encompassing, now, almost all of Upstate New York). This week brings another anniversary of a good effort wasted.

Bigots within our denomination want nothing to do with debate, or live-and-let-live, or the "pluralism" that I remember from my own confirmation class as being the Big Tent of our faith. When homophobes in sacred robes find out about pastors being gay, or about their marrying Adam and Steve, they don't pray- they prey. They file formal complaints, which our Bishop, at least, feels compelled to act on. A year ago this coming weekend, a brave pastor from the Binghamton area (who had dared to solemnize the marriage of his own gay son) had his initial session with our Bishop at his Syracuse offices- which happen to be upstairs from one of the largest and boldest RMN congregations in all of upstate. (The conference has since announced that the bishop will be moving.) The church downstairs held a vigil for Pastor Heiss while the meeting was going on above them- and I attended. It was an outpouring of support for, not only the man, but the idea of obeying something more than doctrinal misguidedness.

To his credit, the pastor and bishop (and his inquisitors) were civil, and agreed to think about each others' positions before final action was taken. Nobody backed down, though, and this Pastor's case, and sacred status, remain uncertain and undecided a full year later- unlike other similar witch trials that were brewing nearby at the time (one downstate resulting in THAT bishop calling off the dogs on any such future complaints, another in Pennsylvania resulting in a trial, conviction and defrocking, since reversed on initial appeal but still subject to further appeal by the bigots).

I am reminded of these events, in part, because my visit to Syracuse was the beginning of a road trip that took me to see friends in and near Baltimore, surrounding the long-standing Shore Leave sci-fi convention there. I am again booked to attend that event this coming Friday and Saturday, and this time will be swinging back with an old friend from elementary school (he now lives in Maryland) to see a Mets game next Sunday; the trip will then end with me doing some family history checking before heading home Monday. There will be no vigil to stop at in Syracuse this time- and maybe, for me, no church I feel welcome in within this place and faith by the time I finally do come home.
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Comments
thanatos_kalos From: thanatos_kalos Date: July 29th, 2014 07:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
::hugs:: I'm so sorry that these bigots are still trapped in the dark ages. Can I help at all?
captainsblog From: captainsblog Date: July 30th, 2014 01:48 am (UTC) (Link)
Nothing I can think of that wouldn't land us both in Azkaban.

Do check the followup post, though: today brought a full boat of nuthin' on both of these fronts.
thanatos_kalos From: thanatos_kalos Date: July 30th, 2014 09:55 am (UTC) (Link)
*nods* I shall.
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