A testimony from Rev. Effie McAvoy (She, her, hers):
Recently my church, The United Methodist Church York Ogunquit finished a Biblical study on Hebrews, James, 1st and 2nd Peter, and 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John. The power of this study has moved us more closely to one another AND has caused us to question how we can be more engaged in the world that we live.
Last February, when the Special General Conference decided that they would do further harm to members of the Body of Christ, York Ogunquit did not take it very well
Historically, this church family has ALWAYS been inclusive. When others were shunning those who had contracted HIV and AIDS, this body embraced these folk…offered them sanctuary…and places to mourn their dead. They showed and still show radical hospitality to anyone who enters the space and in the community that we interact with beyond the walls of the building. Before I was born, York Ogunquit was living the embodiment of resisting harm to God’s children. Before I was a Methodist, they were sharing the Means of Grace in a world that was denied access to the very Christ who came to make them whole. Before I was ordained, they were preaching the Good News of inclusivity, affirmation and acceptance by becoming a Reconciling Network Congregation. Before I moved to Maine, they were actively and visibly flying the pride flag to show that there is room here in this space. And in the welcoming of me, my wife, and our son, they continue to live out their deeply held belief that ALL of God’s children are invited equally to the table…to feast, to host, to serve. NO EXCLUSIONS.
So when I say that my church body did not take what happened in February 2019 very well I am actually saying that they plainly said that “we will not do that”. I confess that I was not surprised by their testament but was greatly moved by their statement of defiance and their unequivocal support of ALL God's people.
Friends, from the Biblical study I mentioned earlier: The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and since (James 3:17). The harm that has been done in the name of God in our beloved UMC is none of this. To serve in a community of faith that strives to live as this text from James mandates is an honor. To be a part of a church that ignores the tenants of the Gospel of truth is painful and infuriating. Daily, I work to #ResistHarm and to be a means of grace for those who have been harmed by religiosity and “forms of righteousness that are far from God”. I also confess my privilege in serving in a community that encourages me to be ME. For those who have never had to live in a closet or had to deny love because of fear of unemployment or other forms of harm, my privilege may not be understood…but for those siblings who have had to or continue to have to live that way, please know that you are not alone in the Body of Christ. There is a place for you in service to your call. You are loved beyond measure.
In His Service,
Rev. Effie McAvoy, Pastor UMC York Ogunquit
York and Ogunquit Maine
What will you do to #ResistHarm? Check out our call to action for February - https://resistharm.com/events/love/