So right before the Special General Conference about the church’s stance on human sexuality in February of 2019, the church I was then serving held a town hall type of meeting to 1) explain why that conference was taking place, 2) to explain all the sides that were going to being presented at said conference, and 3) to have people share their thoughts and concerns.
Leading up to that town hall-esque meeting, I was having semi-regular conversations with a gentleman who was overly concerned about the direction the church and the denomination could go. I invited him to the town hall meeting and told him to listen to all the thoughts and plans the denomination and the church are discerning and to share his thoughts and concerns.
The dude actually showed up. Yea, he showed up but he didn’t last too long.
The senior pastor got up and welcomed everyone and began explaining the proposals that would be discussed at the Conference. Again — he was just explaining what conversations would take place in St. Louis. He begin by talking about the proposal submitted by the “progressive” side. Midway through talking about the proposal, old dude storms up to the back to where I was sitting, aggressively tossed something at me, and said, “Cowards! The church is full of cowards!” And stormed out. The staff person next to me was all wide-eyed and asked, “What was that all about???” Me? Man, I had the church giggles because I found the whole damn thing so funny. Dude was so wound up that he couldn’t even sit through an explanation — a recap — of the debates and discernments taking place. No one made any decision of any kind. We were just going over the talking points and he nope’d it outta there.
Oh. What he tossed at me was a Thank You card for a book I got him. Life Pro-Tip: refrain from alluding that the person you’re wanting to thank is a coward and the place he works at is full of cowards. What a way to deliver a Thank You note. 🙄🤣
But I do think about the accusation he laid out against us every once in a while.
That we were cowards. Cowards, because we were giving in and “letting the gays in.”
I think about it because I think he got it backwards.
I think — and still think — it’s more cowardly to uphold the status quo.
I think it’s more cowardly to be gatekeepers.
I think it’s more cowardice to be exclusive.
In fact I think all the above is far more easier than being inclusive.
I think it takes courage to be inclusive.
I feel it takes courage to embrace — not tokenism — but diversity.
I think it takes more courage to challenge and disrupt the status quo — that it takes courage to push for change than it is to keep everything just the way it is.
It’s easier to keep people out.
And it seems easier to create a whole new denomination to keep people out rather than opening arms, hearts, and doors to let everyone in.
Obviously, old dude never came back.
The opening intro of that meeting was the straw that broke his camel’s back.
Ironically enough, that was the last season I would spend as a Methodist…
I really do hope that he found a community that upheld his view of courage and masculinity.
And I hope that we continue to create space for all of God’s children.