Friday, June 14, 2019

5 years later...

Today is a wonderful, yet bittersweet, day.

5 years ago today, I was ordained as an Elder in the United Methodist Church. It was a day full of joy, culmination, and anticipation. I had just been appointed to my first church as the lead pastor, which would begin soon. It had been a long journey full of hard work and I was ready for what came next. I am still so grateful for those with whom I shared that journey and those who supported me along the way.
I will always remember how tangibly I experienced God’s Spirit when my Bishop placed her hands on my head, called me by name, and instructed me to take my authority. I took seriously that ordination and truly meant the vows I took, though even then I felt the tension between my commitment to uphold the Book of Discipline, and my baptismal promise to resist evil and oppression in whatever form they would present. My heart spoke clearly to me that if I ever had to choose between the two, I would always choose love and would do all in my power to resist evil and fight for justice. Five years later, so much has changed, though my conviction to choose love at all costs has only strengthened.
Yesterday, the clergy session of the Oregon/Idaho Annual conference voted to welcome me as a member in full connection of the Oregon/Idaho conference. It was wonderful and full of joy! I have come full circle, back to where my faith was nurtured and where I first experienced a call to ministry. I was surrounded by colleagues I have grown to love, trust, respect and call friends. I have loved being in ministry with them and am so excited to continue this work together.
Yet, there was sadness too. It means a long chapter in my life and ministry has closed, as I officially say goodbye to Michigan. Though I know that because we are a connectional church, I will stay connected to my friends and mentors in the Michigan area. I still realize the gravity of this shift in my life--and this change is a reminder of the other painful, unexpected changes in my life this last two years, pain that has shaped me in ways I never anticipated. I have made so many mistakes, thinking my way was the right way, trying to move quickly through a grieving process for which there is no time schedule or easy path. For those left behind as our roads have forked in different ways, I am thankful, and they remain with me, a handprint on my heart and an invaluable part of my journey. For those I have hurt as I have been consumed by my own brokenness, I am sorry and carry many regrets. But, I am grateful for the things I have learned and the grace I’ve found along the way.
At the same time, along with all of this, I feel great anxiety about the church as a whole and I am worried about the future and our continued mission in the world. I mourn the harm the church continues to do to people who are queer, people of color, and people still on the margins, and own my complicity in that harm. I wonder if -and often doubt- there is any relevance left in the institution to which I have committed so much of myself and my life. I wonder if my persistence and tenacity in leading through these uncertain times this broken, crumbling, and too often oppressive system means that I myself am a perpetrator of harm.
Still… I remember with clarity and passion the promises I made along the way in this journey: when I was 7 and claimed Christ as my own, when I was 14 at church camp and first realized a call to ministry, when the words of John Wesley and his message of holiness of heart and life led me to choose membership in the United Methodist Church, and, five years ago, when I knelt before the bishop and was ordained-. I promised to love, to preach the gospel, cast vision, administer the sacraments, teach, care, serve, speak on behalf of those who are silenced, stand for those who have been pushed to the margins, to use the power of my ordination and privilege to fight against racism, sexism, violence, hate, homophobia and all aspects broken, stormy systems--even ones that are within my beloved church. To those vows, I am still fiercely committed. Even as the institutional church swiftly crumbles around me and loses its power, relevancy and, even, its integrity, I believe the love of an inclusive, creative, universal, gracious creator, known by many names, is still powerfully relevant.
I am humbled and grateful for my ordination and the way it shapes my life and my heart and my ministry. I will do my best to choose love as I walk the stormy path to which Christ has called me as I move through stormy waters. I will continue to work towards love, inclusivity, justice and peace. Whether that journey will remain in the church or draw me closer to the margins, I will listen, pay attention, go, and, always, love, as long as I am able.
It has been a long, winding, joy- and sorrowful five years. Thank you to all who continue on this journey with me... for your love, support, your willingness to hold em accountable and for your belief in the dreams of my heart. I am grateful to you beyond words, and always will be.


  1. I remember the first time I met you, though I’m a bit fuzzy on the date, maybe 2006. You were our new youth director at Central United Methodist Church (though we had very few youth). I was their Parish Visitor and my cup overflowed with elderly folks. I was so taken by your maturity, dedication and enthusiasm. We were besties from the beginning. Though circumstances turned out pretty harsh at Central, you remained optimistic and full of faith. I’ve no doubt God has a very special path for you. Accept and embrace it. I love and miss you terribly.

    1. I didn't see you comment! I love you too and miss you like crazy. You are such an important part of my journey and your support has encouraged me more than you know. And I don't just say that because of the beets and chocolate!! <3