Category Archives: Methodist Church

Wedding Photos!

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Hey all,

For those of you that followed my journey, again I thank you. As promised, here are the wedding photos. If more come in the days ahead I will make another post but now, enjoy these:

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Wedding crises…24 days out

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I might have just stolen this from Elis’ Facebook page ūüėÄ

So, here we are, 24 days before out vow and ring exchange ceremony…and we have to find a new person to¬†facilitate¬†it!! OMG What?!?!?

Long story short, the minister we thought we had all worked out to officiate our ring exchange and vow ceremony Friday night isn’t going to work out.

After freaking out and wondering what we’re going to do, M and I decided to do what we had been thinking about since the beginning…we asked our friend Elis. And Elis agreed.

Elis is amazing.

Elis is also an ordained minister.

From Elis’ Facebook page:

I make terrariums and propagate plants. I drink a lot of coffee and eat a lot of trash. I believe in the intertwined nature of the universe and the power of human spirit. I embrace androgyny and ambiguity. I love trees, cats, wind power, and interpersonal learning. I want to know you.

Why wouldn’t you want Elis to marry you?!?!?

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the Methodist Church

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Barack Obama signs Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal legislation Dec. 20, 2010. The repeal went into effect Sept. 20, 2011.. (photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

I was going to leave the one-year anniversary of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell alone.

The media said everything was kosher since all the LGB folk can serve in the U.S. military openly (Ts still aren’t allowed and Qs might be¬†debatable) and I was tempted to let Sept. 20 pass without so much as a whisper around here since it don’t really fit with my blog premise.

But then I saw this post¬†from Truth in Progress about what the United Methodist Church can learn from the repeal of DADT. The author’s overarching point is this:

We too, if we have the will to rescind our UMC practice of “DADT”, will discover that for 40 years we have been in denial about how significantly God has used the lay and clergy United Methodists who are gay and lesbian, and we have been wrong!

I’m glad the author wrote this, but I think both he and the military are missing a crucial part of the repeal process.

Nowhere in the article does the author, or has the military over the last year, made any effort to undo any of the harm done to those who served under the policy.

After spending six years in the Air Force (three on active duty and three as an ROTC cadet at Miami University in Ohio), I “outed” myself to my commander in April 2008 because I no longer felt I could serve in silence. With a signature and some minor paperwork, I was given an honorable discharge and got stuck with $36,000 in school “scholarship money” that had now been converted to loans (currently the bill is $38,000+ since it keeps accruing interest faster than I can make payments).

Two years and five months later DADT repeal went into effect. While the media and the military and the groups who worked to overturn the law celebrated (and continue to celebrate), those of us affected by the policy while it was in place are left in the cold.

The military made it clear that it wasn’t interested in¬†retroactive fixes…but they also haven’t made anyone available to veterans who were discharged under the policy in case we need to talk and ask “what now?”.

Presumably the answer is nothing, but I don’t know.

Currently I owe money, but there are good soldiers, sailors, Airmen and Marines who would like to reenter the service and can’t because their previous job isn’t available, or they’re now too old to qualify, or a million other reasons.

And the military doesn’t seem to care.

To circle back around, I think the Methodist Church can learn from the military.

But I think the UMC needs to go one step further and have a plan in place to help those affected by the bans feel they can come back.

It hurts to be excluded, and unless the church makes it clear that they want those who felt excluded to return and reaches out a hand to them, those folks may just stay gone.

It’s not enough to move forward, the UMC has got to be willing to look behind and take care of the previously excluded folks too.

Shout out to Green Street UMC!

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Go Green Street

I’ve always known that Green Street is one heck of an amazing place, but now it’s official – Green Street was named “Best LGBT-Affirming Faith Institution in the Triad” for 2012 by Q Notes, a Charlotte, N.C.-based gay and lesbian newspaper.

During the Amendment 1 campaign, Green Street sort of became the go-to place to hold meetings, have events and get support from. Along with other houses of worship in Winston-Salem, we showed the so-called Christians who were actively voting against my rights as a lesbian that not all religious-based institutions feel the same way.

And Green Street did it all without ever catering specifically to the gay community, but by sticking to our 2009 Reconciling Statement which calls us to love everyone:

Green Street United Methodist Church is called to the ministry of the sacred worth of all people. We embrace as a gift the diversity of our neighborhood and the world. We celebrate our human family’s diversity of sexual orientation, gender identity, race, ethnicity, age, faith history, economic status, marital status, physical and mental ability education, and any other difference, real or perceived. We affirm that all people are created in the image of God and as beloved children of God, all are worthy of God’s love and grace. We welcome the full inclusion of all people in the life and ministries of Green Street United Methodist Church as we journey toward reconciliation through Christ. We recognize that there are differences among us, but believe that we can love alike even though we may not think alike. We proclaim this statement of welcome to all who have known the pain of exclusion and discrimination in the church or in society and know that everyone’s participation in our ministries enriches us. We invite all people to join us in our faith journey toward greater love, understanding, and mutual respect.

I am so proud to be a member here and seriously, if you’re looking for a church in Winston no matter who you are, check us out. If you’re curious about some of the work we’re a part of, check my blog here¬†and here.

Seriously…go Green Street!

A Celebration of Blessings for our Committed Relationship

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These were the flowers M gave me for last year’s anniversary – a year to the day we’re getting married.

Our wedding invites and RSVP cards came this weekend.

Once again, we got to highlight the fact that we can’t call what we’re doing a wedding. Because Green Street is a Methodist Church and the UMC doesn’t recognize gay marriage.

When we first ordered our invites, we had to carefully dance around what exactly our ceremony on Saturday is (again). And we finally settled on a Celebration of Blessings for our Committed Relationship

Originally, we sent out our save-the-dates and called it an Act of Civil Disobedience which it was going to be when we were first going to do our ring exchange in front of the church right before the ceremony as a way of highlighting the fact that we’re not equal on so many levels – the church, the state…

But then there was a discussion on how much of the street technically belonged to the church and if having a parking lot vow ceremony technically constituted “using” the church to have a ceremony and would Green Street be in heaps of trouble if someone wanted to pursue it and we didn’t want that and really wasn’t it supposed to be our special day and on and on and on and on and finally M and I made the command decision to say:

Ya know what? Let’s just save everyone trouble and have the ring exchange ceremony the night before at Wake Forest Baptist Church with a small group of people.

Side note: I am thankful that Pastor Kelly and Rev. Angela Yarber are helping us facilitate this double event wedding weekend extravaganza!

So the Act of Civil Disobedience didn’t really apply anymore. That and I think I’m a bit jaded after the loss of Amendment One that I still don’t really want to be an activist right now. Not just because we lost but because Equality N.C. created all these elaborate discussions about how A1 would hurt straight people and we still lost. I wish we had just said that it was about gay marriage – we would have at least lost honestly.

So there it is – A Celebration of Blessings for Our Committed Relationship. With the ring ceremony the night before. It works and it’ll be fine. I just really wish sometimes that the world was different from what it is.

“We are…not…alone

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We live in God’s world…”

That’s one part of a three part chant we do every Easter at Green Street and it’s been running around in my brain recently, I think it’s God’s shorthand way of reminding me that…well…exactly what it says.

After everything that’s happened in the last few months – from losing the Amendment One battle¬†to watching the whole United Methodist Church take a vote at general conference to exclude me – again – at least for the next four years – I was just done and the article I read on Tuesday just kind of sent me over the edge.

Funny that to pull myself back I would go hang out with a whole bunch of church folk.

Currently the Western North Carolina conference of Methodists (of which Green Street is a part jurisdictionally) is meeting for their annual conference in Lake Junaluska, close to Tennessee and about two and a half hours west of Winston-Salem. As part of the week-long meeting, the folks with the Reconciling Ministries group usually organize a worship service to remind the larger denomination that everyone (including gays and lesbians who already exist in the church anyway) needs to be fully included.

This year it was at 9 last night.

So, after work yesterday, about 15 of us made the 2.5 hour journey through the North Carolina mountains to add our support and be lifted up in the knowing that we are not alone. Considering the Green Street is the only  reconciling congregation in the Western NC conference, coming en masse seemed appropriate.

It was awesome. I have been feeling very hurt by the larger world lately and I felt sort of vulnerable last night. But to be at Lake Junaluska, surrounded by other people I didn’t know from churches I didn’t recognize (even though they were all Methodist), reminded me that the larger world is full of good people too.

There are always going to be folks who don’t like who I am or what I stand for, but last night I caught a glimpse of the fact that there are some people that do. And who want to work alongside me in the creation of a better world, both inside and outside the church.

I needed to be reminded. And I was. And it was awesome.

I am…not…alone…I live in God’s crazy, mixed up, wonderful, diverse, noisy, amazing world. And I, along with anyone else who wants to work with me, am going to make it better.

Letting my (yours, our) light shine

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It’s my birthday…Happy Birthday to Me!

This last year has been pretty amazing. It was my first year out of school in a little over six years and although I thought I might get to take a break, I think I gained more knowledge this year than through most classes I’ve taken. I learned that I have a little light inside of me and, when given the chance, that little light can glow pretty bright.

I had no idea I was (or could be) an activist, but then I somehow pulled together a vigil in a little less than two weeks that gathered more than 250 people;

The ENC equality vigil I organized in September

I wore my politics on my sleeve (or my signs, whichever);

NC Pride in Raleigh…I made the sign, M came up with the slogan!

I found my allies;

The Straight Brides for Gay Marriage float at Winston-Salem Pride

And I cried with a whole bunch of people when 60 percent of the 30 percent of registered NC voters thought it was okay to enshrine hate and discrimination into our state constitution. I also decided that no gets to decide who is or isn’t my family.

You do not get to define my family

My point here is not to pat myself on the back. It’s to remind you that you have a light and you need to let it glow.

It’s scary at times, but I’ve seen crazy change when it happens. At the very beginning of the whole Amendment One campaign, I had one woman ask me not to be so political at church. The very last Sunday before the vote she wore¬†a “Vote Against Amendment One” T-shirt to church. I had another women mention that she was never comfortable putting a family picture of her and her partner up on Facebook, but when she saw how Marianne and I lived our lives so honestly it made her a bit braver and last I checked she has her family portrait as her profile picture.

Regarding my upcoming wedding yes, I am absolutely doing it because I get to marry my best friend, but I am writing this blog because I think all the events leading up to it matter. Everything is not cake and roses, but I keep pushing because things change. And they change when folks meet others who are different from them in their everyday life. When they realize the feminine-looking woman they work with is a lesbian with a wife or the tattooed, leather-wearing, motorcycle-riding butch they were scared of before is perfectly ordinary and maybe even grooms poodles on the weekend, things change.

Marianne and I were in Greenville this past weekend and we ended up the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship service on Sunday morning. The pastor read a quote by author Marianne Williamson about our deepest fear not being that we can’t measure up, but that instead it’s that we are so powerful we don’t know what to do with that power. Part of that quote seems fitting here:

…as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

So you, yes you, live your life exactly as you were meant to live it. Figure out what makes you passionate and do that thing. Be honest about who you are and others you meet will follow suit. No more hiding. No more apologizing, just truth. And light.