Church of Holy Rebels can now more fully begin to be what it may become. Boxes are packed and back in my home office. This Sunday is my last one in full-time ministry in a church building setting. It is bittersweet, and it is also nothing I regret. What I will never miss is my experience of:
- The institution/politics/polity(governance) of the church—specifically the United Methodist Church (UMC)—to exclude participation with the best use of their gifts, graces, abilities, skills, and knowledge, through intentionally limiting the ways all ordained women of all ages and ethnicities are appointed to churches.
- Appointing ministers to churches when it is fully known by the bishop and cabinet and congregations that being released from ordained ministry through counseling and preparation for another way to work and be in ministry is necessary for the health of the minister and the UMC.
- Failure, with kindness and love, to address conflict and work to resolve it with the power of the Holy Spirit in congregations, in the UMC North Georgia Conference, and in the worldwide UMC.
- Ministers and laity leaders within congregations being “people pleasers” and complacent in order to maintain “the way things are” and to “keep the money flowing” into the local church so that “all appears to be functioning well” because the money is abundant and the “numbers” look good on the “End-of-the-Year” reports.
- Complacency—going along to get along—following and defending the rules/laws, aka, UMC Book of Discipline and our interpretation and cherry picking of Scripture, like the good Pharisees that we all enjoy being in ministry.
- Belief that the purpose of “church/where worship and ministry take place” is only to provide an experience of God’s love for “me” and to be an “insurance policy” that ensures that me and mine will “get to heaven”.
- Checking our divine ability to doubt and think critically at the church building door and never, ever change one thing we believe about the Christian faith that we were taught in our childhood.
- Excluding anyone from fully participating in the church, the body of the risen Christ—people with disabilities, slaves, women, LGBTQ+, and basically anyone who “doesn’t behave, believe, look, think, or act” like me.
I will miss and continue to work towards:
- All the people who were daily working to be the risen Christ in the world and be the love of Christ to all people in the world. Disciples who recognized that we never get it “right” and we are all in need of forgiveness and mercy, and we all wake up each day and begin again with the power of the Holy Spirit to be Christ in the world this minute, this hour, and on this day—one more time—one day at a time.
- Holy and sacred moments within the body of Christ with people in need of prayer, love, support, encouragement, presence with one another, and where we experienced the love of Christ together and took that love out to all people in the world.
- Sacrificial giving of all kinds of resources so that people within and outside of the congregation experienced the love of Christ that transformed their lives so that they lived a new life and turned from the life they had before.
Church of Holy Rebels—join us—“the water is fine.”