In the months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, and excruciatingly long seconds leading up to the special session of General Conference for the United Methodist Church-this may come as a surprise to some of you —but as an emotional, feel all things viscerally, kind of person— I was filled with all the feels.
Hope, determination, grief, anger, defeat, anxiety, excitement.
I’m still in that space.
Being in that room, witnessing all of the stimuli there was to experience, I felt it all, in one way or another—we all felt it.
But there was something said from the stage of General Conference, that stuck with me… well lots of things were said during GC that have stuck with me- but that’s a story for another day.
Rev. Brian Adkins, the first person to ever, as a part of the planned proceedings from the General Conference stage to announce that they are an out, gay, clergy person who was a member of the commission on the way forward said, “As Christians, as Easter people--we know that a lot of good work can happen in three days.”
That sentence—after cheering—reminded me that Lent was right around the corner.
With Lent being my favorite liturgical season, I imagined what the season would be like this year, what the journey to the resurrection would look like, feel like this time around.
That sentence has played in my mind over and over again during General Conference and since, and while General Conference was unfolding—I felt myself teetering between the death and despair of Good Friday and the joy, excitement, and hope of Easter.
I found myself sitting in the liminal space of Holy Saturday.
I found myself in between.
That space of fear and anguish of watching the denomination that I have spent my entire life in and had found a home in seemingly fall apart in front of me, while beloved children of God, siblings in Christ exchanged harmful and sometimes hate-filled rhetoric that seemed to question the belovedness or sacredness of others.
And following the prophetic queer voices crying out in the wilderness, the space standing with beloved children of God, siblings in Christ, along with our deans, our faculty, and students singing, chanting, worshipping and protesting every step along the way. Fighting for the spirit of justice, inclusion, and paving the way to exhibit love in the way Jesus loves.
However, no matter how I look at it, something died.
The institution I called home, the initial feeling of connectionalism in a way has died for me. There was and is a deep sense of pain and grief.
But something changed Tuesday night of General Conference, after the shock of the traditionalist plan passing and the crumbs of the one church plan, let alone the simple plan being swept away.
Joining chants of stop the harm from the balcony, working it in the public square of the convention center lobby singing Draw the Circle wide in the spirit of worship and protest, looking up to the balcony and seeing the desperation on a dear friend’s face, and the full support and affirmation from my deans and faculty, and attending and participating in hope filled worship spaces—shifted my denominational eschatological despair into a spirit of hope.
While there is mourning, there is a time for hope.
That is where I find myself. Stuck between wanting to leave and needing to stay and continue to work for change.
But for some, the holiest thing for them to do— is to leave….and for others, where I find myself in this journey, the holiest thing for us is to stay and continue the fight.
No one can decide that for you.
We are all on this Lenten path, and I am leaning fully into that journey, that process to discern what the route to the resurrection will be for me in this season.
God is still working, and She still has work for us to do—no matter where we find ourselves on this journey or at the “end” of it.
I pray that we remember that we are all beloved children of God, made in Their image. No matter what. Amen.