I’ve spent quite a few years as a card-carrying Methodist and I can tell you, nothing makes a Methodist more uncomfortable than the disruption of the orderly flow of whatever’s going on. Methodists are obsessed with order and discipline. Hell, the name of the denomination’s rule book is “The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church”. So you can imagine the reaction when, as Bishop Warner Brown was closing the Wednesday afternoon session of the 2012 General Conference with prayer, one hundred protesters walked into the middle of things, singing “Wade in the Water” and chanting “We are here and we will remain in this church until we make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of ALL OF US!” Reactions were mixed, some delegates left the hall while others stayed and watched, many recording the event on phones and tablets. At the end of the Thursday’s morning session, another group of protesters took the floor and began singing “What Does the Lord Require of You?” and refused to leave even though the presiding bishop asked them to leave several times and finally closed the session. These protests, and others, came about because delegates voted to maintain the church’s stance on sexuality. The UMC is the only mainline denomination that has not embraced full inclusion for the LGBT community and it was thought by many that this would the year that things would change. Alas, it was not to be.
Reading the comments on the linked blogs, I was astounded to see people were more concerned that order was disrupted and a respectful tone wasn’t maintained than they were that a significant number of their brothers and sisters are hurting. Several people said they were in accordance with the aims of the protesters, but did not care for their methods. Unfortunately, one cannot speak truth to power by being orderly and respectful. If you do, power will ignore, push you aside and marginalize you. Those who believe the UMC should bring our LGBT brothers and sisters into our fellowship fully have been orderly and respectful for 40 years. It has gotten us exactly nowhere and it’s time high we changed tactics. That discrimination is codified into the documents that govern a church that was founded on the principle of social justice is obscene. Telling our brothers and sisters that their sexuality, a core part of who they are, is sinful and “incompatible with Christian teaching” is disgusting and a stain on the soul of the church. It makes ashamed to say I am a member of the United Methodist Church. Because of this, while I am still a member, I no longer consider myself a Methodist. Maybe it’s time to make that official.
There are those who say the full inclusion is inevitable and we just need to be patient. We should wait to be true disciples of Christ? If we just wait long enough, we’ll finally love our neighbor as Jesus instructed? Sorry, I’m not willing to wait.