In Members’ Words: This is FirstChurch
May 8, 2019
In the days since General Conference and the decisions that resulted, our clergy has listened to the thoughts, feelings and opinions of our congregation, and partnered with our LGBTQ+ members on devising a path forward for FirstChurch. On Easter Sunday, we were proud to launch an official response to that decision in the form of a campaign, ensuring that people within and outside our walls would know FirstChurch welcomes and values ALL people. (To read more on that response, click here.)
Part of that campaign launch contained an invitation for members to share their thoughts regarding the decision, and some took us up on that offer. Below, see what members had to say about how the decision affected them.
Would you like to share? Submit your thoughts here – they may be used as we continue to show the world This is FirstChurch.
“I am a 5th generation Methodist, and with our adult son, his wife and 4 young sons, our family is now 7 generations Methodist strong. I was immensely sad, very sad, then frankly angry at the recent General Conference vote. Fairly quickly I was heartened, energized and made hopeful by both the North Texas Conference and our own First Church’s overwhelmingly clear, concise and strong message of welcome, inclusion for ALL and suggestions of strong action steps that point us in the direction of creating a new unity with choice. I remain both hopeful and committed to a new Covenant.” -Betty Black, FUMC member for 35 years
“Regretfully the United Methodist Church is so divided that a breakup into 2 or more denominations is almost certain. Hopefully this can be done with as little pain as possible.” -Tom Cox, FUMC member for 20 years
“The decision to adopt the traditional plan seemed anything but traditional Methodist to me. Instead of being the loving, accepting, big tent church that I grew up in; the “traditional” plan is neither loving nor accepting. I felt like the church betrayed my deepest belief that God is Love.” –Lynn Hunt Gray, FUMC member for 40 years
“I’ve been a Methodist since my baptism as an infant. In my adolescence, I slid down the carpeted stairs of Heritage United Methodist Church in Van Buren, Arkansas to then run to the sanctuary to see my father sing ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ and other gripping songs from the Methodist pulpit. I went skiing in Riodoso and suntanned on Padre Island with the youth group from St. Lukes United Methodist Church in Midland, and for 3 years toured with Spirit Wind, a traveling Methodist choir whose program led me throughout the Lone Star State and into an intimate relationship with other young Christ followers, and Jesus, who all accepted me for who I was –a heterosexual with human joys and sorrows.
Church attendance was perforated in college and young adulthood, yet I knew I could return to a receptive staff and congregation regardless of what Methodist doors I opened. I learned over time that some of those very close to me were gay, and although most were active in the church, they did not experience this knowing peace of automatic receipt and rights despite what church they encountered and served. One close to me buried a part of themselves and another unboxed their truth, nevertheless, none could appreciate assumed personal and professional embracement and opportunity in the church. This privilege was/is merely gifted to me and the rest of the heterosexual community, and the scales from the church bear more burden to balance.
I am humbled by what the Methodist church has done for me, for how much more I could have done to serve the church and for what Jesus has done for my life. However, the recent denominational decision is distressing, dizzying and revealing. It has revealed that the denomination has, albeit led with love, has not put acceptance, rights and thus, respect of humankind, as a priority. It’s also revealed to me, that I should have taken prior personal responsibility to advance a church environment that not only promotes a seat in the pew but leaves no one undeserving of equality.
The LGBTQ+ community has endured abuse for decades; if First Church believes that Jesus would honor, accept and grant dignity to anyone within the LGBTQ+ community then FirstChurch should endure the battle and bruises to leave such mentality and practices behind.” – Sabra Girard, FUMC member for five years
“I’m a cradle Methodist. My grandparents were leaders in their Methodist churches; my father was a Methodist minister. Being a preacher’s kid meant I always had the starring female part in the Christmas Nativity, was the one serving punch at church functions, and my nomination for youth council was a given because I had an “in” with the preacher. I was raised in Methodist parsonages and I attended a Methodist college. As a child, my parents would load up the wood-paneled, three-bench station wagon, for road trips across America. We would leave for vacation after church, on Sunday afternoon, for 12 days of adventures on the open roads. My parents would carefully plan the trips so we’d miss only one Sunday. On the Sunday we were away from our home church, my father would find a United Methodist church for us to attend. I hated going to churches where I didn’t know anyone and, inevitably, the church would be small and visitors would have to stand up to be welcomed during the service. But when the service began, the familiar songs and order of worship felt like home. This was a valuable lesson for me as I grew into adulthood and became an adult: wherever I go in life, the Methodist church is home. The recent decision the UMC made regarding the LGTBQ community made me feel as though the UMC was no longer my home. It’s been a sad, soul searching time for me because my home, my heart, doesn’t exclude others. I’m happy FUMC is taking an outward stand for what’s happening inside: FUMC is home for all. “- Jan Corona, FUMC member for 29 years