Thank You Pussy Hat

Dear Pussy Hat marching women of the world,

THANK YOU!

Pussy Hat

Thank you for taking time to go out and show the world that, peace is possible even when disagreement exists. Thank you for showing the world that diversity in humanity doesn’t have to mean disharmony. Thank you for showing up, being heard, and being counted!

Thank you for doing this, from someone who was; not able to march, sing, carry a sign or have her voice heard. Thank you for myself, for my daughters’ in law, my granddaughter, my nieces, my sisters, my cousins and my 90+ year old Aunts.

Thank you for my; Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Atheist, Agnostic, Humanist, Pagan, Unitarian, Questioning, Hindu, Buddhist, Orthodox, Liberal, Conservative, pro choice, right to life, working, non working, working mothers, work at home mothers, differently able, tall, short, round, and thin, young, old, somewhere in the middle of everything friends!

Without you, my Pussy hat wearing, marching, sign bearing friend,  my weekend would not have been punctuated with photos of joy, peace, love and friendship.

Thank you; for being where I could not go, for saying what I could not say,  therefore allowing me to be exactly who I am meant to be.

Thank you!

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“We Are Singing For Our Lives”

Set to Holly Near’s We Are Singing For Our Lives are the sights of my experience at General Conference.  Holly’s song became a balm for our souls as we marched across the Convention Center floor.

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The Final Semester

Drew Theological School Seminary Hall
Drew Theological School Seminary Hall

It has come down to one last semester for me in “the forest” as we like to call our Drew campus. I look forward to this semester of singing in the choir, being among friends, and soaking up all that Drew has to offer but I also dread the end of this season of my life.

When I arrived at Drew Theological School in the Fall of 2012 I fell in love with the diversity of the Student Body, the challenge of learning with students from around the world, and the campus that was a “cocoon”  as I called it. Since that time my life has changed in ways I could have never imagined. I fell in love with someone who loved me without reservation. The love we shared was so plainly clear to all who knew us that people fell in love with our love story, but we were more than a story, we were students of life and I was a student at Drew. 

Don immersed himself in all of the activities on campus while I took classes. Now it is time for the final semester to begin. I will not be seeking ordination as I once thought I would. Instead I will pursue a different path. If the time comes when all people can be ordained in the United Methodist Church then I may go back and do the additional coursework required for ordination. 

I will not walk across the stage and receive my diploma. I will have it mailed to me. I will be busy volunteering for the Love Your Neighbor Coalition at GC2016. I pray that my witness and presence there will make a difference in the policies of the United Methodist Church. I hope you will join me in that prayer and join me in supporting the LYN Coalition with your signature on the Altar for All Agreement and with your financial contribution to the campaign if you are able. 

I am not making this decision to make any grand statement, I am making it for personal reasons. I had decided to not pursue ordination as an Elder because I no longer felt called to that particular ministry. I planned to seek ordination as a Deacon because that is the office I feel most called to and if I do ever seek ordination it will be Deacons orders that I seek, but at this time with the United Methodist Church’s position on ordination of all persons regardless of sexual orientation I have come to the conclusion that serving the church as a LayPerson is what is right for me. I am not leaving the Church. I am staying and working for change. I hope to be commissioned as a Deaconess in the United Methodist Church and I am prepared to continue in that calling to lay-ministry for my lifetime. 

My calling has always been to serve older adults and baby boomers and to serve alongside them in ministry as well. To that end I will seek a Certificate in Gerontology or a Certificate in Older Adult Ministries. Much is still to be decided but many decisions have been made. For now I will soak up the Springtime in the Forest and savor the memories of the sweet love that Don and I found while walking the beautiful tree lined path from our home in our tiny dorm to the wonderful environment that is found in Seminary Hall.

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Sitting in the Mud with God

When I was small we had a very long dirt (sandy) driveway in our suburban yard. This was unusual on our street as most of the houses were closer to the street than our house was and their driveways were covered with Blacktop.  The drawbacks to having a long dirt driveway to an adult homeowner I later would discover were many; sand constantly being tracked into the house, snow removal complications to say the least, adult drawbacks aside however, having a dirt driveway as a kid is the best!  For me it meant I could dig to China on a daily basis within the watchful eye of my Grandmother from her spot inside the kitchen. I was happy and she was happy. For my sons it meant building ramps to fly their bikes off of and soft sand to land in. dirt-trees-country-road-wallpapers-1680x1050 (2)

Those memories of sitting in the mud come back to me now whenever I have big decisions to make. I have spent a lot of sleepless nights sitting in the mud with God lately and it has not been a bad thing. For more than fifteen years I have thought I wanted to be the senior pastor of a local church. I didn’t even have an exact preference as to the type of church this would be; urban, rural, suburban, small or large. During this same time I have been called to be in ministry with adults in their second half of life, or newly retired adults, or older adults in need of pastoral care.

I find people in this age group to be a joy to work with. Weather it is visiting a nursing home resident and listening to stories or telling stories for an afternoon, or working side by side with a passionate baby boomer on an issue of social justice that ignites a fire within their soul, I find I am continuously more enriched by my experiences with my elders than I think I will be.

So over last month or so  I have made the decision to not become a United Methodist Elder (Senior Pastor) but I will instead work toward being commissioned as   a United Methodist Deaconess, this is not an ordained position but a title for a lay person who is a  servant leader who can work in many areas of ministry. I will Graduate from Drew University with a Masters of Arts in Ministry Degree and I will then pursue a rather new area of academics which pairs a  Masters in Public Administration with a concentration in Gerontology. This will provide me with the academic background to compliment my many years of experience working with older adults and will allow me to work with a variety of different groups enhancing their older adult ministry programs.

 

So if you have been on this journey with me for a while I thank you for sticking with me, if you have just begun to follow me, welcome to the ride!

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Except God

I was invited to preach last month. During Advent, on Joy Sunday I preached without Don there to hear me, without my Mom there to hear me, in fact I didn’t know anyone in the congregation except for the presence of one classmate who I didn’t know very well and who just happened to be there by coincidence. The sermon was good, the congregation was attentive, I delivered it well. The topic was joy, the joy that is the gift from God to all of us at Christmas. The joy that I still have in my heart for God through all I have been through.

I had a message from God to share with the people of that wonderful little church and it did not matter that I was battered and broken, it did not matter that I was fragile and weak, what mattered was the message of joy at Christmas. For the first time in the over ten years that I have been preaching as a guest preacher there was no familiar face in the pews to support me, there was no family or close friend to tell me if my message had been on point or way off base, there was no one there to hold me up should I begin to falter, except God. Except God.

God was there when the invitation was issued for me to be there in that pulpit that Sunday morning. God was there that week as I prepared the words to say. God was there holding me up when I wasn’t sure I could stand. God was there holding back my tears as I finished delivering the message and went to sit down alone. God was in all of the kind faces of the congregation that day as they shook my hand and said kind words to me on their way out the door and God will be with me tomorrow when I step back into the classroom again.

Tomorrow I will walk into Seminary Hall again without Don by my side but like the very first time I walked into Seminary Hall over two and a half years ago God will be there by my side. I have been blogging for almost five years now and some of you have been with me every step of the way. I thank you because God is in your face to me right now as well. If you have been with me all along or if this is the very first time you have stumbled along my blog I thank you from the bottom of my heart because tonight you are the face of God to me.

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I Am an Ally

 

What does it mean to be an ally?

People sometimes ask me why I am so passionate about reconciliation within the United Methodist Church. They say what does it matter if the church splits or what difference does it make now that many couples can get married in many States.

I want to tell you why it matters so much to me.

I wasn’t raised in a United Methodist Church, I choose the UMC as the church I wanted to pursue ordained ministry in because it is the church where I felt the unmerited, unequivocal, prevenient Grace of God for the first time. Prevenient Grace is the Grace of God that we are born into. We can’t earn it,  we don’t choose it, God choose us and died for us, ALL of us. That is simply how it is. God didn’t die for those of us who were born to fall in love and make babies with someone of the opposite gender, NO, God sent Christ to die for all of us.

What does it mean to me to be able to be a Pastor to anyone I meet?

It means I can be who God is calling me to be, not only to some people but to ALL people.

Why does same sex marriage have to be in a church ? What is wrong with couples getting married at the courthouse or in a park? EVERYTHING is wrong with it if we want to be able to be in ministry with ALL of God’s children. When a couple gets married a family is created, regardless of whether or not the couple chooses to add children to the family, the couple is a family, and that couple will need a Pastor.

Life is full of joys and frustrations, happiness and sorrow, and God has called Pastors to minister to those who are celebrating and to those who are mourning. If I have said to a couple that they cannot be married in a church where I am serving then I have also said to them that they cannot come to me when they lose a job, or their parent, or when they can’t cope with any one of life’s sorrow’s. I am also saying to them that they shouldn’t bring their children to church to celebrate their baptism because the church has said they are not welcome.

We cannot continue to proclaim the Good News to all but reserve the benefits of Church participation and membership to those who happened to be born straight and not gay.

This is why I am an Ally.

 

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I Haven't Missed My Calling; Ministry of the Laity

 

UMNS photo Kathleen Barry You don’t have to be ordained to feed hungry people as Jesus instructed. Here Ana Zele, 18, a sophomore at Florida Southern University and a member of First United Methodist Church of Bradenton (Fla.), repackages cucumbers that have been gleaned and will be distributed to local food ministries by the Society of St. Andrew. This event took place at the 2012 General Conference in Tampa, Fla. 

The call to ministry can take many forms.

I became a Certified Lay Speaker over ten years ago. I have led groups for more than fifteen years. The call to Ordained Ministry is only one of the ways in which we are called as Christians and Disciples. In churches all over the world and in communities all over the world there are Disciples transforming the lives of individuals, families, and the communities in which they live.

The title of lay speaker was changed in 2012 to more accurately reflect the variety of ministries that lay servants contribute. For more information from the United Methodist General Board of Discipleship about the lay servant and lay ministry program click here.

To find a catalog of resources available to equip laity into ministry click here.

Please follow the link below to read the story of one lay person who knows that all are called to ministry wherever they are, whatever their occupation or even vocation, we are all called.

I Haven’t Missed My Calling.”

 

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Why I am a Reconciling United Methodist

Given the rare gift of a snow day I have more time to reflect than I have had of late and I want to affirm something that many people have asked me over the last ten years or so.

I was not born into a family of United Methodist’s. The person who influenced me the most in my spiritual walk was my Grandmother Sadie Ellen Colvin Morrow.

Sadie Ellen Colvin Morrow 1897-1992

Sadie Ellen Colvin Morrow (1897-1992) My grandmother didn’t know about drawing wide circles or rainbows, she never used the words, open and affirming, or reconciling. She didn’t need to. The gospel that she instilled in me, is what gave me the conviction that there has only been one man that had ever walked the face of this earth that was worthy of being a judge of any other. Additionally, that Man is no longer here, He is seated at the Right Hand of our Creator God and it is only because of His sacrifice that we are saved by Grace, and that we can not earn it , nor can we deny it to any one, in as much as He has done this for one, it was done for all. 

I was raised in a grace filled home but my Grandmother attended a church where righteous indignation reigned supreme and where there was no room for Grace. It was exactly that juxtaposition between what I heard at home and what I heard in the pulpit that instilled in me a desire to reconcile the two.

What did I hear God calling me to preach, when I made the decision to actually follow up on this calling ten years ago? I had a lot of education in front of me at that point and not very much under my belt but I knew then, just as surely as I do today that I have been called to preach Wesleyan Grace.  It was not only Wesleyan Grace that convinced me that I needed to be United Methodist however, it was also John Wesley’s Holy Temper. A Holy Temper is not righteous indignation, a Holy Temper, is a Christ like temperament. These are described by Paul in the Galatians 5 ” the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

When it comes down to preaching the Gospel however the denomination of the ordination that I will seek matters less than the message of Jesus Christ. In fact most the differences in theology matter much much less than we sometimes think they do.

What matters is what we are called to do, and that call is not from a Theologian, it is from God. It is in the Gospel message of Christ over and over, that we are called to love one another, we are given the ability to do this not because of anything that we can do alone, but Because GOD loved us, we can therefore love each other.

From 1 John 4 “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.”  “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

God is made complete in us!

That is our highest ideal, that is what perfection means. Can we obtain perfection while here in our earthly bodies? We are called upon to try.

I want to say that while I continue to work for change within a system that does not always live up to its highest ideals of “Open Hearts, Open Minds, and Open Doors” That I do recognize that those ARE our highest ideals!

It will be those ideals that I have in mind when I am asked before God if I will work to move on toward perfection in THIS lifetime;  and when I reply “YES, with the HELP OF GOD”  I will remember that I choose to follow this path and I choose to preach from this tradition and it is because of God’s Grace ALONE, that I can do anything that I do.

So, yes I will continue to be a United Methodist, a Reconciling United Methodist, and I will not allow those who can speak louder than I can be the only voices that represent a Church, and a tradition that I have grown to love and has taught me what love is.

I will not forget that while we may be working for change within a tradition that shares love, grace and mercy, that there are those who haven’t known any at all, and it is for them that the risk is greatest and the cost is highest. Yes I am an ally, and I will be not be silent.

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