Hello Dear Faithful Readers -
Before I get to what is on my heart - I want to apologize for not writing last week. Somehow the week got away from me and before I knew it - I was laying my head on my pillow Friday night realizing that I hadn't written my post for you all. Life definitely happened last week and it was surely a rollercoaster of emotions.
I sit here in my kitchen on my laptop conflicted. I am honestly so spiritually angry at the UMC right now that if I didn't have an amazing reconciling pastor - I'd run for the damn hills. This week my beloved friend Rev. Anna Blaedel (Theologian-in-Residence at enfleshed) was forced to endure a hearing with the Committee about whether or not the bill of charges brought against them in this third complaint should be certified and sent to trial. Their beloved, Rev. M Barclay (Director of enfleshed), and their support person/representation Tyler were present as was well over a 100 people standing vigil outside in the parking lot. With probably countless people standing vigil in spirit, prayers, positive vibes, and other acts of radical solidarity. Anna Blaedel was notified this week of the Committee's decision by email and it began with "It is with a heavy heart..." and the news was the bill of charges (Anna was charged with the offense of practices declared by the United Methodist Church to be incompatible with Christian teachings, specifically being a self-avowed and practicing homosexual, pursuant to Paragraph 2702.1(b) of the Book of Discipline).
Anna and Tyler both bore witness to so many truths and so with such grace and love and Christ-like behaviors I am so amazed. This is the third time that Rev. Blaedel has faced complaints. Anna and Tyler both chose to bear witness to the (1) sacredness and holy delight of queer and trans lives and loves (2) testified to the Gospel call to intersectional justice (3) prioritizing the needs of the most vulnerable. Anna and Tyler invited them to in Anna's own words, "to imagine and create a more just, more holy, and more loving church". They both offered theological and biblical, moral and ethical, legal and judicial arguments that not only were needed to dismiss the charges but led to healing instead of inflicting more harm and loss. Yet the Committee on Investigation in Iowa still chose to send Anna that email stating "It is with a heavy heart..."
As I said a few paragraphs above - I am conflicted deeply. I am spiritually angry at the UMC for what it is doing to my beloved friends, pastors, mentors Rev. Anna and Rev M Barclay. I'm angry at the harm and loss the Iowa Committee on Investigation is inflicting on two precious ministers of the Gospel. I am angry and conflicted because how on earth can God allow Their Church to get it so wrong when it comes to queer and trans lives and loves, yet I am so lucky and blessed to have one (excuse my language) hell of an amazing reconciling pastor? How can the denomination get it so very wrong, yet I have seen clergy get it left and right it seems?
I am conflicted because while my dear friends are walking through this difficult time and I'm holding space for them - I am going to be celebrating this sunday with my kick-butt pastor and my local adoptive momma. I recently came across a ceremony for reaffirmation of baptism and renaming ceremony. I sent it to my pastor and asked her if she would be willing to do it for me. She said let me look into it and check with my allies and get back to you. A few days went by and she sent me a message on facebook and said "and I'll do the reaffirmation." I sent a response back asking if she was going to do the whole ceremony including the renaming or just the reaffirmation of baptism. She asked for some time to read through the document again. This response back was quicker and she said "I'll do the whole ceremony."
My dear beloved readers - can you see why I'm so conflicted? I'm holding two dearly beloved friends/mentors/pastors during this time of the organization (known as the UMC) inflicting preventable harm and loss, costing the Iowa Conference money that could be spent to help undocumented persons not far from where this hearing was held. But at the same time - I am leaping for joy at the fact I've got a pastor that is reconciling, who believes that because people stuck their necks out for women to be able to preach she needs to stick her neck out for others, and who is willing to perform this reaffirmation of baptism and the renaming ceremony during our early morning service!
My adoptive momma from NY sent me a text message tonight as I typed this blog. She said this, "There will always be Justice and injustice happening at the same time for people whom we love. God doesn't want us to stop enjoying life just because other people are suffering, right? Neither would it be right not to enjoy and celebrate your happy moments even in this dysfunctional Church of which we are apart. Claim this time as a vision of a new and beautiful church that we are going to create. Because that's what it's like. A moment of kin-dom come."
So can I ask a favor of all my readers and those that follow Beguine Again?
Keep Rev Anna Blaedel, Rev M Barclay, Rev Tyler Schwaller in your continued prayers and thoughts as they prepare for trial. If you would like to support them during this time - please send an email to Rev Barclay at firstname.lastname@example.org
Keep my pastor (who I will not name here) and myself in your prayers as she performs this very important ceremony in my spiritual life and walk.
Thank you all for reading this blog, it has been a very hard one to write!
Blessed Be and May the Peace of the Divine and Sacred Be With You Always,