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Still wading in De-Nile- the kind made famous by St. Peter.... - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
Still wading in De-Nile- the kind made famous by St. Peter....
I haven't denied Christ three times, but as we all know, two outta three ain't bad.

I'm still pretty numb over the results of the past week, but I've pressed on. Thursday afternoon, I was back to work, on a day that proved to be a circular firing squad of the finest order. Yesterday was a little better, if only because it was quiet due to the holiday and quieter still because two late-day appointments both stood me up.

But today, something significant didn't happen. For the second time, I have let my credentials lapse as a certified lay speaker in the United Methodist Church.

I first acquired them in high school. Our minister suffered a heart attack, and while he recovered, the laity essentially took over the pulpit. Several of us, including me and one or two others of tender age, took a semester's worth of Saturday morning classes at a church out in the adjacent county to get our licenses to preach anywhere a UMC congregation would have us.  I took maybe three or four turns in my remaining years before going off to Cornell- where my credentials, as well as my active interest in religion in total, took a seven-year break while I got me my larnin.

It was as much coincidence as anything that I even went back when I got to Rochester. There just happened to be a church of that flavour at the end of my block, and it just happened to be a vibrant and welcoming place where, for a decade, I participated in services, studies, classes, and met Eleanor. It became the home of our wedding, and later of Emily's christening.  When we moved here, it was to something much smaller and never as connecting- although we tried.  Each of us fell off for years at a time, me eventually returning to more active status when Emily got involved in confirmation.  I connected particularly with one or two of the ministers assigned to us maybe a decade ago, and through that resumed taking extended study classes, participating as a liturgist, mentoring confirmands, and eventually hearing the call to do the Lay Speaking Thing all over again.

Fewer classes and shorter drives this time, although it was now split over two years with a since-the-70s distinction between Basic and Certified lay speakery.  The first entitled you only to serve and preach within your own congregation; the second gave you what I'd had decades before as a conference-wide allowance.  I led one or two services from our own pulpit and a few pinch-hits elsewhere.  Then the denomination decided in 2012 that they wanted to encourage those with speaking talents to take the extra step to become actual licensed pastors, and essentially eviscerated the post I'd achieved twice.  I was now a Lay Servant, a post of rather vague abilities and responsibilities but one which did not automatically extend to conducting a service anywhere. For that, you'd need to take at least six additional courses, which might or might not ever be offered anywhere near you, on subjects that sounded remarkably similar to a first-year seminary courseload.

As Jesus Himself once said, "Fuck That."

Still, I pressed on with maintaining whatever the hell I did have. Through most of last year, I did monthly assignments as a liturgist, attended some committees and even led one for a time, and met regularly with our one remaining minister for really only one reason: to use whatever influence I had to encourage at least our congregation, and in time join the groundswell within the UMC, to extend full rights to members and clergy who are LGBT.  (Eleanor came back to attending for a bit, too, but as she began seeing more and more of these so-called Christians wearing their truer colours while she was encountering them at work, she became disaffected enough to stop going and eventually to embrace a completely different belief system altogether.)  I pressed on, though, even attending an after-church meeting earlier this year with the Reconciling Ministries coordinator for most of this part of the country. Her presentation, and its reception from most of those who stayed for it, gave me some hope that this little band of Methodists might somehow come around to taking action to doing the right thing.

As if.

Previous posts of mine here have discussed my frustration with this particular church's being paralyzed by Committee Creep and Survey Sickness; and at higher levels, the denomination and our own Bishop reaffirmed this year their opposition to the opening of our hearts, minds and doors to LGBT persons- although this year's quadrennial gathering of our entire denomination did officially kick the can down a possibly shorter road, appointed a commission, and might, MIGHT!, change our homophobic doctrine as soon as 2019.

And Donald Trump could never be elected President.


With there being no change in either our own church or the body to which it belongs, I essentially dropped out this year.  They stopped calling me to assist in services and I didn't volunteer.  Our longtime latest minister got reassigned, and the replacements- yes, plural- are a younger couple who show promise but who haven't really reached out to me either for me to serve or for them to understand my frustration with where this "faith" is going.  I've checked out other alternatives- from returning long-distance to our onetime UMC home in Rochester, to a different and more inclusive church community, to even tossing the lot and doing the Buddhist thing.

Meanwhile, The Church did what it does: I got emails asking for my annual Lay Servant Report, due earlier this week.  Mine would have been essentially blank: I assisted in no services, attended no committees, took no classes, and only showed up on Sundays a handful of times because I missed seeing friends.  That missing report will be not approved at an annual meeting with the denomination's poobah that was scheduled for this morning, and my name will no longer be among those certified to do whatever I've been certified to do since 2012.

The only thing left is to let my actual membership terminate.  This is a surprisingly difficult thing to do, as you can only achieve it by (1) dying (though it's sometimes hard to tell), (2) transferring to another church, (3) affirmatively resigning (which may not even be accepted), (4) being excommunicated (more difficult than over at Holy Mother RC but it can be done) or (5) having your name read at three successive Charge Conferences before it is expunged.

Given how everything has (not) progressed that's connected with what I've needed out of this faith in the past several years, I think I'll just go with the fifth alternative.  God knows they've already got an oversupply of the molasses:P
2 comments or Leave a comment
oxymoron67 From: oxymoron67 Date: November 13th, 2016 04:20 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm sorry that it;s come to this. I've felt this: I've pretty much walked away from faith myself.

I just don't feel that there's a place for me there.

weebleswobble From: weebleswobble Date: November 15th, 2016 01:59 am (UTC) (Link)
you are not alone. more and more people are abandoning their church because of their exclusionary restrictions.

we as a people are slowly and eventually learning that the truth is... god, whatever god, (or gods), created ALL of us. exactly as we are. as different as we are. because different is good. the goal is to ACCEPT the differences, not reject them simply because they're different. that we are better as people and as a whole, when we come together.

and that goes against so many churches. so, not surprisingly, they're losing attendance and membership.

i'm sorry your church couldnt open their arms, would rather close them.
2 comments or Leave a comment