God is good! All the time! But sometimes God’s church community makes me feel very left out.
Tonight, Marianne and I, along with two other couples, met with Pastor Kelly for a learning session about communication and the Meyers-Briggs stuff. After the session, I asked to talk to Kelly about our wedding plans, more specifically about the plan to have our wedding inside the sanctuary.
Last we knew, Kelly was up for the idea of the congregation voting on it because he figured the Methodist denomination wouldn’t kick out an entire congregation. Marianne and I weren’t too keen on that idea, it felt sort of like folks voting on our marriage, but thanks to our a conversation with our friends Shirley and Kathryn over the weekend we changed our minds. We began to see the vote not as a yes or no vote on our marriage, but as a way for the Green Street family to really own the Reconciling Statement we’ve made.
So I asked Kelly tonight when we might begin that process. And it seems somehow either we had misunderstood what he had said or suddenly our wedding is too great a risk for Green Street to take on. Anyhow, the vote’s not happening.
According to the Methodist Book of Discipline, a pastor cannot officiate or celebrate a same-gender union and cannot allow her or his church building to be used for that purpose. So it seems our option is now to have the actual wedding ceremony/exchanging of rings somewhere else, performed by a pastor that is allowed to officiate, and then have a thanksgiving service of some type at Green Street.
I know we’re trying to compromise and Kelly wants to participate, and allow our congregation to participate, in the ceremony as much as possible, but there’s no way to make things separate but equal. I am grateful that Kelly is even willing to work on this with us and that he wants to be a part of our day, but there just doesn’t seem to be a way to not make us second-class church members in this particular instance.
Yes, obviously, the day is about Marianne and me and our pledging our love to each other. But we also wanted to have our Green Street family be a part of it…all of it…which includes the vows and the exchanging of the rings.
The thing is, I thought I would be okay with doing the vows outside of Green Street and then having a prayer service inside, I said as much to Kelly tonight. But on second thought (and third, fourth and fifth thought), that’s not a wedding. That’s just highlighting inequality and I don’t really want to be reminded that I’m not equal to all the millions of straight couples on my wedding day.
When we left, Marianne wasn’t speaking which usually means she is ruminating on things. I offered to go pick up what we needed at the grocery store and somewhere between the house and Harris Teeter I had a meltdown. I called my mom which helped but right now I’m just feeling very lonely.
It’s not Pastor Kelly’s fault and it’s not Green Street’s fault – it’s an issue within the United Methodist church and it needs to be addressed. I know I can’t be the only person planning their wedding day who is tired of feeling left out.
Luckily God’s got a way of reminding me I’m not ever totally by myself. On the way home I changed the radio from NPR, which was playing some awful, sad chamber music, to 94.1 which is our local Christian music station and Matt Redman’s “You Never Let Go” came through the speakers:
Oh no, You never let go/through the calm and through the storm/Oh no, You never let go In every high and every low/Oh no, You never let go/Lord, You never let go of me
Something’s going to work out, itwillitwillitwill. I just don’t know what that something is yet. So for now, I’m content to be sad.