I was one of those kids that other kids made fun of. The bone structure of my face made me the target of horrible teasing. I felt like an outcast. Then my life began to change. For some reason I started going to church. Church was not something my family did. It wasn’t even something we talked about. Yet somewhere in my soul I felt a need to get up and walk to that place on the corner of 59th Ave and Camelback. It was at church that I began to experience people who accepted me, and it didn’t matter what I looked like.
By the time I started attending church my self-image was pretty damaged. As I look back over my life at Epworth UMC now I realize it took a good portion of the church to bring healing to my fractured heart. It took a woman who started a youth choir to create a community where I was accepted. It took the kids in that choir who let me know they were my friends. It took a pastor who proclaimed a message of grace and love for all. It took the grown-ups in the church who believed in me and at times invited me to serve on church committees.
God used this community of faith to let me know I had a place in the world, and to convinced me I had something to offer the world. God used the people of this church to transform my life and set me on a path that has brought me to the place I find myself today. I will always be grateful to God and to the people of Epworth for all they have done for me.
I share my witness with you because our church, The United Methodist Church, is at a place of decision as we prepare for the special called session of the General Conference. I can’t imagine the church that loved me into wholeness in such a painful place. In my heart I believe the people on all sides of the LGBTQ issue have good intentions, even if I might disagree with some of the stands taken.
What I know for sure is that, as Bishop Bob reminds us, the day after General Conference there will still be kids who need someone to believe in them, to let them know just how precious they are in God’s eyes. The day after General Conference we will be called to make God’s love tangible, known, real.
1 John 4:7 (NRSV)
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
This is our call to action now. It has always been our call. It is what we are called to do after General Conference. Let love live large in and through you.