Where is your light today? What is inspiring you? Transforming you? What is allowing you to be love to the world?
“I will remember this word," he said. "Shenanigans. It is a good word.”
― John Flanagan, The Emperor of Nihon-Ja
In my first year at university, I will never forget, two of my friends came out to me. This was the mid-80's so it was not yet cool to explore and or know your sexuality was not hetero-normative. My guy friend, I will call John, was scared to death. I mean to death because he being raised conservative Catholic and believed he would be beat up by his father or worse. Fortunately, I was part of a campus ministry and knew that I could get help from the pastors. My pastor chatted and counseled with John and they found a way to come out to his family that would be safe and filled with dignity. My best woman friend, I will call her Ann, was exploring her sexuality and beginning to have relationships with women. Her sister, since she was out, was telling her the church had no place for her. Again it was our campus ministry that continued to welcome her and love her for who she is. I asked my friends why they came out to me, they said because you have this serious openness about you. Each said that they knew I was safe of all the people they that knew, who also was a person of faith. From that time on I made a promise to myself that I, because I believe in the unconditional love of my faith, made a promise to be an activist with and for people of all sexual identities both in the church and outside the church.
My activism continued in graduate school and my church settings ever since. I have led two churches and one campus ministry into being fully open and affirming of all sexual identities and have been an activist for full inclusion of all sexual identities both in Washington State and in the United Methodist Church to which I am a part. I along with other interfaith religious leaders founded the Religious Coalition for Equality. Our organization, along with others, changed laws in Washington: First adding sexual orientation and transgender into our anti-discrimination law, and second, gaining full marriage equality rights this past November. My denomination is slower to move, but I continue to fight and advocate for full access of all peoples no matter their orientation, or identity. The God I was raised with is a God of love and inclusion, not of judgment and exclusion. Over and over the Biblical stories remind us that from the most powerful, the Roman centurion, to the widow—all are welcomed. And that we are called to love our neighbor, not change our neighbor.
As long as there is discrimination I will welcome those who feel discriminated against, I will sit with, I will care for, I will do the rites and rituals they deserve and should get to fully participate in. I will perform their marriage ceremony; I will baptize their children;; I will do all the priestly tasks that are asked of me for them. And when asked, I will continue to speak up and speak out at the sin of our Church for not living out God's grace and truly welcoming all. Silence in this case is a sin, and will lead to our spiritual death.
I get my strength knowing I have brothers and sisters in the faith all over the planet who also believe in this fight. It is they I get strength from when is it seems that next to me there is an overwhelming silence of apathy or of giving up on. What I mean to say is, the denomination I serve in has lost many great, smart, loving amazing people and leaders all because of our official discriminatory stance and I am afraid we will lose many more before this battle is won!
In the meantime I will continue to be part of the movements within the United Methodist Church that continues to call out our hierarchy into accountability. I have already signed a covenant with colleagues across the country saying I will stand outside of church law and do same-sex weddings and I will participate in actions that will call out Bishops who continue to carry out these discriminatory practices. Discrimination is Discrimination is Discrimination and it is wrong. And as long as it is an official policy of the United Methodist Church I am a part I will fight to end it. It is my call.
For continually pushing social, political, and justice boundaries, Rev. Dr. Monica Corsaro, you are a shenanigator! What a great example of being love to the world.
Shalom and Amen.
#lovetoaction #shenanigator #BeguineAgain #spiritualpractice
© 2013, post, Terri Stewart, all rights reserved