Reconciling United Methodists of North Carolina

a part of the Reconciling Ministries Network

The Circle of Freedom

An Expansion of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

This is the time to be born for persons who are as courageous and unafraid as was the Christ. It is a time to die for persons who believe the have everything and are blind to the needs of their sisters and brothers.

It is a time to plant the seeds of justice and equality for all people. It is a time to pluck up seeds of prejudice and hatred which have been planted.

It is a time to kill ideas of inequality mid subjugation. It is a time to heal the wounds of the insidious and nonverbal evidences of prejudice. It is a time to break down barriers of all kinds which exist between persons. It is a time to build up mutual love and understanding among all people.

It is a time to weep for those who are spiritually blind to the liberating love of Christ. It is a time to laugh with those who experience Christ's liberation for the first time.

It is a time to mourn for those visions of human freedom that have passed away without being fulfilled. It is a time to dance with those, who through the giving of themselves, have

made visions a reality. It is a time to cast away the stones of hate and blame. It is a time to gather up the gemstones of love and responsibility.

It is a time to embrace our sisters and brothers who struggle with us. It is a time to refrain from embracing those filled with pious platitudes.

It is a time to seek for faith to stride through the frightening valley and to climb the hill of Golgotha. It is a time to lose our desire to remain in the glory and safety of the Mount of Transfiguration.

It is a time to keep the anger of the Christ when he found the temple turned into a dell of thieves. It is a time to throw away the sweet Jesus, meek and

It is a time to rend the veil of the temple which keeps people from taking their rightful places. It is a time to sew together the designs of many people of different life styles.

It is a time to keep silence about trivial issues. It is a time to speak about those issues of life which are central to our very existence.

It is a time to love every question and doubt which leads to abundant life. It is a time to hate the easy answers and the certainties that lead to a living death.

It is a time for war waged forcefully against the chains that restrict the freedom of any person. It is a time for the peace that comes when we work for justice.

Nancy Ruth Gentry Best

My Dad

Dear Fellow Methodists... At age eight, I was informed by my Mother that my Father was homosexual. My first and last thought was so what. I still love him anyway, and told him so. At age twelve, I went to live with my Dad. He was a savior to me, during a rough spell in my life. He was also granted custody of me. My Dad was always there for me throughout high school and college. My friends and my husband have always been supportive of my Dad, and I feel that Methodist Church should be as well. If his money, time and efforts for the Methodist Church are good enough, then he should be good enough for the Methodist Church.

I love my father, and he did a wonderful job raising me, and has always been there for me. Sincerely,

Kimberly Baines

Letters to the Church

As I reminisce about my life in the Methodist Church, my thoughts go back to 1970 at age 17 the pastor of our church was asked to leave before his appointment had finished. To me, he was a God send to our church, he was active with our teens and had a singing voice from heaven. I could not understand how a few people in the church could not see the good in him. Thirty years later, I am not welcomed in the Methodist Church because I am a gay male. For 20 years I attended the same Methodist Church. My family was very active in the church. For me, MYF was the highlight of my week. I knew at an early age there was something different about me. I was taught boys liked girls but it didn't work that way for me. I dated girls in high school and got married. I have two wonderful children and one grandchild. After ten years of marriage, we divorced. Three years later, I met my new partner for life. We have been together for ten years. I feel like I am living the life my God created for me and I am truly happy. For the past four years we have attended and Joined a Methodist church in Durham. I am on the Administrative Board, sing in the choir and co-chair our homeless program. I do not share my life with everyone but many members know I am gay and love me for being, me.

A fellow Methodist

My Defenders

I have been very fortunate to not feel the persecution that a lot of gays and lesbians have dealt with during their youth years. I guess in some ways I may be a youth coming out success story, also considering that I was raised during the early eighties in a small town in Virginia.

I was raised by my wonderful parents to stand up for what I believed in, not to allow anyone else's opinion of me to change my opinion of me, and always be true to myself. With that said I was very determined to stand my ground when I realized I was gay. When I entered high school in the ninth grade (around 14 years of age), I knew I was gay and so did my close friends. Of course most of them happened to be girls (surprise). My sexuality was never an issue for them and I can't help but believe that this was partly because it was never an issue for. I was GAY. Get over it!

My high school years were not as bad as some of the stories I have heard from friends. On occasion someone at school would say something hateful and judgmental about my sexuality and have no fear somewhere looming the corners of that hall was a champion of mine waiting to defend my honor. I remember once a guy (a typical high school jerk) said something as I walked by, before I could turn to address him (hoping to educate him), two of my "girlfriends" (I love that word when you are gay) were already asking him what his problem was. I never felt so loved and secure.

My best friend dated the captain of the football team. Right after they started dating they were going to see a movie that was all the rage. I wanted to go, she knew this, so when he came to pick her up that night she told him I was going to tag along to see the movie. His response was less than welcomed; he said, "I don't want that queer with us tonight, I want to be alone with you". My best friend looked him straight in the eye and said "you will never be alone with me, ever, if you say something like that again. Further, if you don't accept Chris we will not be dating". Needless to say I went to the movie and he and I became really good friends as time went on. I see him today and he always stops and talks. I feel through the efforts of my best friend I broke through a barrier to show I was "normal".

I remember waiting at one of my best girlfriends house one night, making cookies with her mom, waiting for her to come home from a date. When she did we ran upstairs, locked ourselves away in her bedroom to get all the dirt. It felt normal, it was fun, and I never thought anything different.

I look back on all these memories and am so thankful that I did what I did, the way I did it. My youth experiences are probably not the norm. But if I could tell the youth of today who are dealing with their sexuality one thing it would be, “You can be proud of who are and never be afraid of yourself" I can also tell say that you will be so surprised to find out who will support you and be your "girlfriend" and "defender".

I am honored to be able to share a snapshot of my life, to relive those memories, and hopefully someone else out there can benefit from my past.

With peace and God’s love.

Under the same sky,
Chris Wilson

In My Heart...

What's been in my heart and in my mind is an experience my husband Terry Frye & I had 3/28/04 in church. The senior minister of our very large Raleigh United Methodist church read Bishop Edwards' letter of condemnation of the jury in the Karen Dammann heresy trial to the congregation during the worship service. This is the legalistic letter that reviews and supports all the hurtful, excluding statements in the UMC Discipline and the Social Principles regarding homosexuality. Despite a few words near the end, it is not a loving letter reminding us of any of the words of Jesus or calling all to the table together in prayer for God's guidance.

Someone who had been to the early service who was as upset by the lack of respect for a duly constituted UMC jury as by the reading of the letter during a service of worship told the Sunday School class we were attending that morning that the letter was to be read again at the 11:00 service. After class, I was pressured to go by another person who felt that not going would be "avoiding the hard parts". I don't go to this minister's services any more because of his repeated exclusionary statements, not just about homosexuality, as I am not able to focus on worshipping. I do do plenty of "hard parts", but I had to confess that the real reason that I didn't want to go that PARTICULAR morning was that I knew that I would cry through the whole thing and that I WOULD NOT be able to just sit there in the pew and cry, that I would have to do something - stand up - and that I was too chicken. Terry & I discussed it alone, and he said that if I wanted to go, instead of standing during the reading, he would go to the altar with me and pray.

The bulletin listed the Bishop's letter as one of the first items in the order of worship. The minister began to read the letter forcefully in a loud, stern voice, making clear his agreement Terry & I walked, weeping, to the altar, wept more while we prayed, and finally went back to our seats, weeping. It was very hard to let the huge congregation see the pain I felt, but that pain has to be seen, as Bishop Tuell, an authority on UMC law who testified at the trial, says in a letter I read two days later.

At the altar, I didn't howl out loud, but I howled in my prayers. I prayed over and over not to hate our minister and the Bishop, I prayed for all the people being hurt by the reading, for the mothers and the fathers of gay children, for the teenagers keeping secrets who had to hear it, for all the little gay children who heard what he said. I prayed to be less of a chicken, I prayed for help for all of us, I prayed for the UMC, and then I even heard myself pray to be able to LOVE THE MINISTER, which I did not want in my prayer, but it got in there somehow, so I prayed that, too. Then I heard that I should stop talking & listen, so I did. I heard, "I will take care of all these people and I will take care of all this pain".

I didn't know what to think about what came to me, so I didn't THINK. I felt wonderment and immense gratitude. I felt free. And I am still crying. I have never had a problem with PDA's, public displays of affection, but I am not too keen on my own personal PDP's, public displays of pain, and here I am, the Tammy Faye Baker of my church. And I'm still a chicken, scared to death. The hurt I feel is only for others - I am not gay, and my child isn't gay, and neither my mother nor my father nor my sisters nor my brother are gay. But there are many, many people love who are gay or who are the loving family members of other gay people. I hurt every day for what my CHURCH has done to my gay patients. Somehow, it feels like I hurt for Jesus more than anyone else, for his spidt at having to witness these things happening in His church, in His name.

Always, it seems that the biggest log in our eyes, mine, too, is the willingness to judge, to pretend to be God ourselves, while we're so busy trying to remove the speck in someone else's. We pay attention to everything BUT what Jesus said, remaking God in our own judgmental images any time we're not comfortable. There are so many things that are mysteries to us as humans, and we are grandiose enough to think that if WE don't understand them, there must be something WRONG with that which we don't understand! The history of Christianity, the history of science, the history of history is replete with examples. Why is it so hard for us to admit that we just don't have to understand everything, that it's not our job to have the answer to every mystery? For myself, as a physician, I am fully aware of current scientific findings that sexual orientation of any kind is not a choice. But all I really ever needed to understand to know what to do with my questions about homosexuality is that Jesus said to go to the street comers and invite ALL who would come to God's banquet, not just these or those, not just to the appetizers, but to the whole banquet. I am really scared when I have to stand up and walk, but it feels like the smallest thing to do when I remember with whom Jesus stood up and walked.

It seems that it is the United Methodist Discipline that is incompatible with CHRIST'S teachings. I am still crying, and I am still praying.

Jean Aycock, M.D.