After he graduated, he didn’t take a church job. Instead he flew planes for a small airline. He was still pondering his call. But after about two years, he told me he was gay and knew he could never work in a Baptist church. It broke my heart because I knew that of the 600 folks I studied with at Yale, no one would be a better pastor than Tim.Instead, he is a captain on American Airlines’ Boeing 777. And he calls himself a “humanist” instead of a Christian. He remains one of my closest friends. He sang at our wedding, at my ordination and traveled from Miami to Kansas City for the installation service when I became your Senior Minister.
So when I hear the Methodists debating whether gay and lesbian folks can be ordained and serve the church, my heart wanders back to this talented grace-filled soul who was lost to the church. And I grieve again. I was born a Methodist. My parents and grandparents were all Methodist. And so tuning into the news reports of the Methodist convention last week in St Louis was like watching a family reunion unravel. It breaks my heart.
I chose to become a Disciple of Christ when I was 12. I could easily feel smug about this wonderful denomination, where each person and congregation is encouraged to prayerfully study scripture and decide for himself/herself what is God’s truth. But we Disciples have had our own terrible chapters of division and we also represent a wide range of theological opinions.
I am enormously grateful to serve this congregation. I believe firmly that you are profoundly shaping our world by opening wide the portals of God’s grace. You welcome all people to the communion table, the ordained ministry, the gift of marriage. Here, those who are called to love one another and serve God are welcomed and blessed.
Thank you for your witness to God’s unconditional love.