I am a Black male, and I live in the South, discrimination is nothing new to me. As a Christian, one place where I have always found safety and comfort has been in the Church; the Church being a place that affirms me being made in the image of Almighty God, the Church that tells me I have sacred worth, the Church the forces me to see that all others also have this same holiness within them. Today, the first day of the Southwest Texas Annual Conference I got to see the Church cease to be a place of safety, and instead transform itself back into an institution of oppression.
Mary Ann Kaiser, a woman filled with the mercy and grace of God and overflowing with the Holy Spirit was denied orientation in my annual conference because of her sexual orientation. The vote was very close 124 to 119; but her call and her gifts were denied entry into the ever exclusive “straights only club” known as the clergy. She has served at University United Methodist as the Youth Minister and gone to seminary, she did everything right – except for one thing, she was honest about who she is and whom she loves. Our Conference’s Reconciling Ministry Team had a special dinner where we hoped we would celebrate her ordination victory; instead we used the time to pray for our sister, our Church, and our leaders. We prayed that the church would cease to be the oppressor of the LGBT community and start to be the body of Christ.
The Memorial Service was beautiful and very applicable especially this part of the confession: “Paralyzed by fear, we have remained silent when we should have spoken up; yielded to bigotry instead of standing for equality…”
I refuse to yield.
I refuse to remain silent.
I will stand for equality, so help me God I will not stop until this Church ceases to be a harbor for hatred, ignorance, and oppression and transforms itself by the power of the Holy Spirit into an Altar for all, where all believers can come and fully participate in the glorious gift of grace that Christ offers the world. Amen.