My name is Nancy Malcom (she/her/hers). While I’m not a cradle Methodist, I am a long-time member of Pittman Park UMC in Statesboro, Georgia, where the church’s Wesleyan vision of Christianity anchored in scripture and informed by tradition, experience, and reason upholds me in my spiritual journey. My family is the driving force behind my story. I was born in 1971 as the youngest of five children. My siblings and I – three older sisters and one brother - were stair-steps, with a new baby joining the family every two years. My only brother entered the world in 1969 with his umbilical cord wrapped tightly around his neck. As a result, he was deprived of oxygen for several minutes, which caused severe brain damage. My brother and I went through childhood together. My earliest memories include him always at my side, and even as we grew older, we were usually a pair. I have always held a strong ethic of care, which in retrospect I link directly to growing up alongside my brother. I see the world through a lens which magnifies the connections we have with each other and the responsibility we have to care for and look out for one another. I am and always have been my brother’s keeper.
To be sure, my brother and I were situated in a close-knit, loving family. It was not just the two of us – we were seven strong. I was only 9 years old when my oldest sister moved away to college – a loss which hit me hard. How can it be that anyone from my family could leave our home and go out into the world without the rest of us? Though I would see my sister on occasional visits, our family was never the same after she left for school. Six years later, my sister had graduated from college and was working as a full-time director of a church camp when she was suddenly fired from her job because of her sexual orientation. This news rocked my family. Even from a distance, the potential stigma, shame, and fear were difficult to navigate and family relationships were strained. There is much more that can be said here. I can tell the story of the pain, the difficulty and the real damage – both personal and familial – that was done. But all these years later, I can say that healing is possible. Love endures.
Not only did the church I grew up in teach me that God is Love, but my family shaped me to a greater understanding of how that love plays out. I believe that we are all family. As children of God, we are called to live in relationship with one another – to look out for each other, to care for, support, and encourage each other. To widen the circle and pull people into relationship. Today, I feel an urgent calling to speak and act on behalf of a reconciling, inclusive, affirming church. Alongside my siblings in the United Methodist Church, I confess that we have failed to be an obedient church. We have not done God’s will, we have broken God’s law, we have rebelled against God’s love, we have not loved our neighbors, and we have not heard the cry of the needy. Forgive us, I pray.
I grieve the harm that has been done by our church to so many of God’s beloved children, and I vow to do all in my power to resist harm, and to work toward a church that welcomes, affirms and celebrates ALL. As a lay person in South GA, I can often do and say more than many of our clergy can. So, laity, join me, speak up, be leaders, and let's make a difference together as we all #ResistHarm!