Editorial: The justice seekers
By Richard Gaw
Over the last two weeks, in congregation after congregation – in blue states and in red states -- Methodist churches across the U.S. have unified in their opposition to a 438-384 vote by delegates at the United Methodist Church’s General Conference in St. Louis on Feb. 26 to maintain the church’s Traditional Plan, which rejects same sex marriages in the church, and does not permit members of the LBGTQ community to serve as clergy.
With their vote, delegates rejected the One Church Plan, a measure that would have eased restrictions on LGBTQ clergy and same-sex marriages, and allowed individual churches to decide how they handle issues of same-sex weddings and the sexuality of their clergy. It was an appalling declaration of ugliness that echoed the sound of what happens when discrimination is brought to a vote.
On March 2 at the Friends Meeting House in Kennett Square, about 40 parishioners from the Church of the Open Door met for a gathering of peace, unity and strength – a prayer of protest and solidarity that had teeth in it. It was led by Pastor Lydia Munoz, a compassionate visionary who has leads her congregation on a spiritual journey of faith that is not defined by skin color, beliefs, culture and orientation, but emboldened by it. The Church of the Open Door is just that – a United Methodist church that is intentionally diverse, fully inclusive, progressive and reconciling.
The Holy Communion of March 2 at the Church of the Open Door was a generous and bold balancing act of what we believe every church should aspire to become: The truest expression of God, through prayer and through protest; to have the courage to call out oppression and bigotry and hatred and the blindness of myopic thinking, even when it comes from one’s own church. At its greatest, a church is never quiet, but accumulates the value of its teachings and forms them into an unrelenting and very loud voice, that it takes it to the streets and to its people, in order to seek justice.
In order for them to survive in the wake of false idolatries, clickable distractions and the murmuring hum of disassociation from conflict, our modern houses of faith must engender to form a new relevancy and up their game in the world’s conversation. If they are to remain relevant, they must create and display a spirit of decency so powerful that they risk losing some of their believers by virtue of that spirit, and march on.
This must become their daily bread. The work of the Church of the Open Door on March 2, much like the voices of protest that are coming from churches in the face of the injustices toward the LGBTQ community, are forming the loaves of communion – and decency – that will feed the world’s soul, not tear it apart.