Five years ago I wrote an OpEd in the Washington Blade entitled “Why do I stay in the United Methodist Church?” For 16 years, I gave my life to The United Methodist Church: Seminary, post-graduate study, candidate for ministry, campus minister, Cokesbury manager, Lay Leader, and executive director of the Methodist Federation for Social Action. A self-proclaimed “MethoNerd,” I loved the Church. I loved the theology, the worship, the polity. I loved the witness of Methodists across the globe, to make the world a better place. And I loved the people I met, from all the corners of Methodism.
I also got to see the underbelly of the Church. I felt the pressure of right-wing pundits. I learned how difficult it was for the most progressive organizations in the Church to work together for the same mission and how that mission could be compromised by financial concerns and ego. In essence, never learn how sausage gets made.
When I left church work and moved to Appalachia of Ohio, I learned how difficult it would be to find a congregation that welcomed LGBTQ+ people within an hour drive. And I learned how so many of those people I looked to as mentors and friends would be willing to press for passage of legislation that would change absolutely nothing in progressive regions of the denomination and encode punitive policies in less-than-progressive regions. To be clear, the One Church Plan is an attempt to placate those who work against the very existence of LGBTQ+ people while they themselves are working on their own exit plan.
Over the past months, it has become clear to me that church leaders are engaging in lip service that is too little, too late for queer people like myself. I’ve withdrawn my membership from the denomination and joined the ever-growing cadre of UMC alumni. Hundreds, potentially thousands, of talented, passionate, called individuals have left The United Methodist Church. Many have left for other denominations where they’re able to answer the call God has placed on their hearts; others, like me, have found ways to express their faith outside organized religion.
My support of the Simple Plan is that, simple. It’s too late for me. And it might be too late for many others. But it’s not too late for the young queer people growing up across the globe who need to hear “God loves you, no matter what!”