My Name is unfortunately redacted as I serve in a place where it is not safe for me to post a name or picture. As an Ordained Elder serving in a conservative church in one of the most conservative conferences, the depressing reality is that I am unable to speak publicly without reprisal in a conference that has consistently demonstrated both the will and power to do so.
My desire to stay hidden, rests not with the costs my family and I would have to make but the ministry that would be lost. I have spent the better part of 20 years in ministry in one of the most dangerous places for LGBTQ people (especially young people). I have waited by the phone as kids were coming out to their parents in fear that they would be put out on the street. I have mentored LGBTQ teens who were subjected to conversion therapy at the hands of other church leaders. I have held teens as they wept after experiencing some of the most horrific verbal violence imaginable.
I have been the guard at the gate of the safe space for them to grow in their knowledge of their own belovedness and love of God. I serve in a denomination that ultimately labels them as “incompatible” and I offer to them what I believe with all my heart is God’s truth: they are not incompatible in any way but a gift from God just as they are, God loves them, and so do I.
When the traditional plan passed, I wept as my mind raced through all the harm it would promote and continue knowing that the powerful champions of the plan in my conference and others would be emboldened to threaten, silence, and harm even more people. I was right. It has been bad.
When I have pushed back in private, I have been threatened, “cautioned” and told to stay silent as my appointment would be at risk, and I could be sent to what would be considered a “punitive” appointment.
I am sad to say it has worked, in part. Though my name is not public, I have been involved in this beautiful #ResistHarm movement. And, as I have made my objections to the traditional plan known to some in our conference I have discovered that there are many, many more who have been silenced publicly but have been working relationally and anonymously to #ResistHarm in my conference and all over the connection.
Still I am cut to the bone by Dr. King’s words “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” I know I must continue to say, do and be more. Friends, the resistance is larger than you think. There are more of us working underground than you know. Let us Resist Harm together.