May 18, 2016

We are a denomination that is stuck. United Methodists are frozen in a battle between Biblical literalism and the grace of Jesus Christ for everyone. It is tiring, it is boring, and it is deeply exhausting place to have lived as a pastor for over 35 years. As we overhear the General Conference in Portland Oregon continue to fight this old fight, I am ready to let it go. Unity in the church is not reason enough to stay frozen in a place that prevents full inclusion of gay people in the full life of the church. If there are people who can’t extend the grace of God fully to every person, then let then go found another church, or, let us at least have a creative split that allows churches like mine, that are sick of where we are, to live the gospel with everyone as full participants in God’s kingdom, and not second class citizens deprived of being married in their church, or serving as pastors. It is time to let the United part of our denomination go and let the Methodist Church be free to love who we as congregations want to love. If individual churches want to stay stuck, let them stay stuck. The rest of us should not have to be there. We do not worship the Bible, we worship the living God to whom it points. Moreover, the Bible points most clearly to this movement of inclusion over and over. Those who bang on its cover thumping truths have little comprehension of the message of its pages, which is a message in inclusion. We do not follow law, but the grace of Jesus Christ who must surely weep for our obsession with sex when people are starving and slaughtered because our politics are bankrupt of any concern for human welfare. The argument that faithful people fall out on both sides of the issue of full inclusion for all people just doesn’t hold up in the face of the cross, which destroys the things that divide us. To deny that new creation that is born through the cross, is to deny its power, and therefore the whole basis on which we are Christ’s Church. We are stuck, and our purpose being thwarted, when then the denomination with the greatest capacity to share the grace of the gospel of Jesus Christ, is wriggling on the pin of pointless struggle when there is a world needing to be saved. It is time to let it go, United Methodists, and be free to be the church John Wesley called us to be.

Rev. Linda Farmer-Lewis, Pastor of Central United Methodist Church, Lansing Michigan May 18, 2016