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Slow Progress. - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
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Slow Progress.
Our church hosted an entourage today.

US United Methodists are organized into "churches" aka "charges" (usually just one building but sometimes more), several dozen of which make up "districts" (metropolitan-size regions like our Niagara Frontier), often statewide "conferences" combining districts, and large "jurisdictions" combining conferences. Our guest speaker today, the Rev. Lois McMullen Parr, organizes two entire jurisdictions- close to a quarter of the country, perhaps more- for the Reconciling Ministries Network.

RMN's purpose, boiled down, is to combat the specific doctrinal prejudice in our denomination against LGBTQ people.  It's built right into our rulebook; since 1972, our church has officially declared homosexuality to be "incompatible with Christian teaching," and subsequent tweaks have led to the banishment of clergy who either openly practice their own non-cisgendered sexuality or who dare to solemnize the marriages of persons outside the one-man-one-woman trope.

There are different levels at which this can be changed: the best, but pious-in-the-skyiest, would be changing the rulebook itself, which can only occur at a quadrennial "general conference" of all the charges, districts, conferences and jurisdictions in the denomination.  The next one is scheduled for Portland, Oregon, and will occur next May.  (I'd like to think of Toni and Candace getting the Trail Blazers in on that action.)  Unfortunately, Fundies within the denomination have the voting numbers, the lobbying dollars and the close-mindedness needed to make such a change uncertain at best, even given the secular changes of the past few years.

Short of that, super-regional Jurisdictions can (and Portland's own Western Jurisdiction has) put an unofficial ban on the enforcement of the ban; getting such a change here in the Northeast is more likely in sentiment, but is itself subject to timing and bureaucratic limitations on Gittin' Er Done. That's why RMN mostly works at the local charge level- getting people like us, in buildings like ours, to affirm the error in the denomination's ways, to welcome all and proclaim specifically that "all means all, including all sexual orientations." Doing so gets the congregation recognized nationally, and annually, for being brave in the face of the backlash within and without our sanctuary walls.

Our local church has slouched toward this goal. It took more than a year, with my prodding and complaining, to get even the milquetoastiest of Welcome Statements added to our public expressions- with the specific reference to sexual orientation relegated to the footnotes.   Meanwhile, the largest UMC in our entire conference, where Eleanor and I met and married and where Emily was christened- overcame an even bigger and more entrenched bureaucracy earlier this year and adopted a plain, unequivocal, and unanimous welcome, and affirmed its place in the Network.  Sadly, they remain the only place within 60 miles of our home to do so.

Following the service, Lois led a discussion with participants from the earlier service about what RMN is and does, and how a local church can respond.  Only one old-school member offered any real resistance, and I've known him long and well enough to respect his respect for reason.  The message from the remainder of those present was more the one I've been proclaiming: we're losing a generation of members- not just LGBTQs but of allies- who have covenanted to "seek justice and resist evil... and oppression, in whatever forms they present themselves."

I also discussed tactics- and the need to combine gentleness with firmness in getting a house full of way-we've-always-done-it-ists to look at things differently, admit and affirm what needs to be done about it, and call for a formal on-the-record affirmation of that.

It will not take a year this time. If it does, it will do it without me in the house.

And since some say, Pictures or it didn't happen:



That's me in the corner, losing my religion in my Closed Doors/Broken Hearts/We Mind t-shirt from the Syracuse Witch Trial protests of 2013.  Our pastor is to my left, Lois to his.

----

On a totally unrelated Slow Progress note, I've finally gotten two nibbles on getting rid of Em/Cameron's old car.  One went to a spam filter, the other came through this afternoon, looking to meet up and see the car either tonight or late tomorrow.  This would be a majorly good thing right about now.
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Comments
oxymoron67 From: oxymoron67 Date: November 30th, 2015 03:31 am (UTC) (Link)
I thank you for your work here.

It was made ABUNDANTLY clear to me decades ago that, because I am gay, Christianity has no place for me at its table.

Thank you for fighting that.

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