So much for “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors”…..

by Anne Kybert, St. Luke member

Most of the time the issue of what religion/denomination I am doesn’t concern me too much. I tend to think that if there is a God, (which I believe there is), then he (or she) is the God of all of us, no matter how we try to communicate with him. Having said that, for close to ten years, I have been a happy, regular attender and member at St Luke United Methodist Church, Bryn Mawr , a small but friendly church, whose motto “Growing in Love for Life” very much encapsulates the concern and care that we show both to each other and people in the wider and less advantaged community.

But today is different. Today as I read an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer entitled “Minister told “Reconsider or be Defrocked”, I feel angry and embarrassed to be a Methodist .

I accept that not everyone agrees with gay marriage and the thought of two people of the same sex getting married in church makes some people uncomfortable. But as I  think about the congregation in my church, the people who would have opposed the the actions of Rev. Frank Schaefer, who officiated at his son’s same sex marriage, would be very much in the minority.

And yet the fact that times and attitudes towards LGBT issues are changing (even for people well into middle age like me), doesn’t seem to matter to the powers that be at the United Methodist Church. Five years after the wedding in question a complaint by a previous member of Frank Schaefer’s congregation was enough to push the wheels of the church’s judiciary into motion, with the end result of a Methodist congregation losing a conscientious pastor, who put the love of his son and an inclusive view of Christianity before institutional dogma and his own livelihood .

The actions of the hierarchy of my church, (yes the people who are supposed to be representing me, for goodness sake!) are giving the UMC just the kind of publicity we can do without. Furthermore they are acting with exactly the sort of hypocrisy Adam Hamilton talked about in his book When Christians Get It Wrong, which turns people off religion big time.

To anyone outside the Methodist church, all I can say is this outcome isn’t a reflection of the people we are in my church, which has grown in all aspects of diversity in the time I have been attending. Here at St Luke we worship God in a mixture of styles, but we don’t really think we have all the answers to life’s complex issues. We regard our faith as a journey, in which, with each others encouragement and support, we learn to stretch our understanding, care for each other more meaningfully and extend that love to various aspects of the wider world. “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors” is really something we do strive for in the Methodist Church, most of the time.