By Anonymous Transgender UMC Clergy Person
I first read this slogan advertising my denomination when it was new. I eagerly searched through the promotional kit when it arrived. It contained radio spots, television ads., lettherhead, posters and a dvd. Exploring these items I discovered graphics and verbal messages declaring the welcoming attitude of our denomination to all persons, recognizing each one as a precious child of God. There were radio spots celebrating the equality of women and men, the diversity of races and cultures, the blessings of various ages and generations. The most recent television spot I’ve seen describes each person following a unique yet common journey of faith. All are invited to share, to explore this journey among other persons of faith in the United Methodist Church. Long ago I put that box down, and the slogan too, because, on that day and ever since there is nothing welcoming me; nothing inviting my family and many dear friends into the United Methodist Church. And I am a United Methodist clergy. I also happen to be transgender, and people in the LGBTQ community are not welcome.
I was recently reminded that we are not welcome in churches of the denomination I serve as I read results of the Spring meeting of The Judicial Council, our denomination’s highest court. The particular decision concerns United Methodist clergy and same-sex marriage. Overturning California-Pacific Conference Bishop Mary Ann Swenson’s ruling supporting a conference resolution recognizing “the pastoral need and prophetic authority of our clergy and congregations to offer the ministry of marriage ceremonies for same-gender couples”, the court ruled it is a chargeable offense for United Methodist clergypersons to perform such ceremonies. This is so even in states where it is legal, even in churches that uphold these rights, and even if the clergy are retired.
In nearly three decades I have performed countless marriage ceremonies for numerous couples. Several years ago I married a United Methodist bishop and a dear member of my congregation. It is always an honor and blessing to preside and participate in such a sacred time. Now I am forbidden from offering same-sex couples who, guided by faith, seek to celebrate their union in covenant with God through the Church, and in the presence of family and friends. My denomination’s highest court declares they are not to enjoy the support, encouragement, and community of my church. Ultimately this means my family is not to enjoy these things either. Our children have already left The United Methodist Church over these issues, long before they knew our story. Having grown up in the Church, they understood the gospel and could not agree with what they heard and read coming from our denomination.
In this post-Easter season filled with budding new life, our Judicial Council wields yet another death blow to those who would share their journey of faith from the unique perspective of LGBTQ persons. The council wields another blow to me and to my family as well.
“Open hearts, open minds, open doors: The people of The United Methodist Church”?
Maybe someday, but not today. Today I mourn for those I love, for my church and denomination, for myself, and most of all, for the kin-dom of God.
Rev. David Weekley
Rev. David Weekley has been an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church since 1984. He quietly served his congregations for twenty-eight years before sharing his story and spiritual journey as a transgender man with his congregation, denomination, and the world.
Rev. Weekley is the author of In From the Wilderness: Sherman, (She-r-Man) (2011), which is both his personal story, faith journey, and reflection on the official position of several denominations, including the United Methodist Church, in relation to the LGTBQ community. He is still one of few openly transgender clergy serving The United Methodist Church.
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THE CONCEPT OF RETHINKING CHURCH
It's rooted in our Wesleyan heritage.
It's defined by our social principles.
It's part of what makes United Methodists unique.
ALL ARE WELCOME IN THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
WITH OPEN HEARTS, OPEN MINDS, AND OPEN DOORS.
We believe God's grace is available to all people, no matter where you're from, what you look like, or what you've done.
That's why our communion table is open to all.
WE EXPRESS OUR LOVE FOR GOD
THROUGH ACTIVE DISCIPLESHIP.
To us, church is about sharing God's love by offering hope and healing to those looking for more meaning in their
lives. Acts of personal faith and public worship help us grow closer to God, but we also grow in our faith by taking
action outside the church walls to help others.
Christ and His earliest followers reached out to those in need, caring for the sick and abandoned when others
turned away. Like Him, we are drawn to help those suffering from hunger, disease, or injustice. Those recovering
from disaster. Those in need of education, clean water, or simply someone to let them know they are not alone.
We seek to live our faith in ways that create change in the world.
To be United Methodist is to be included
in a diverse, worldwide community of
connected churches bound by faith and
service to the world.
Reaching from the local church to neighboring communities and all around the globe, United Methodists share a
mutually determined common mission. By working together, we accomplish more. A web of local churches with a
global scope, we seek out opportunities to transform lives.
CHURCH CAN HAPPEN ANYWHERE WHEN:
We choose to live our faith in ways that create real and lasting change in the world.
We open hearts, open minds, and open doors to transform the lives of others.
We put our beliefs into action.
Learn more about how we are rethinking church
Methodist founder John Wesley called this active engagement of humanity "social holiness."
Wesley maintained that disciples of Jesus would grow in their own commitment to Christ by inviting others into their lives, including those who were isolated or marginalized.
Learn more about the United Methodist Church