A Testimony From Rev. Jen Logsdon-Kellogg and an invitation from Boston Avenue United Methodist Church, Tulsa for ALL God's Beloved:
I resist the injustice and oppression done to the Queer community, allies, and also to the United Methodist Church by the adoption of discriminatory language in our Book of Discipline in 1972, and its vise grip on loving, committed, fruitful, sacred relationships.
I was born in 1972 into the United Methodist Church. I was baptized, confirmed, and married in my home church in Oklahoma. I was taught to read scripture through the lens of Tradition, Experience, and Reason - and the unconditional love of God for each and every person. We call that prevenient grace. When I entered the ministry as a part-time local pastor and full time seminary student in 2012, I felt that the discriminatory language in our Book of Discipline was unjust, oppressive, and unloving to Queer people. I am a United Methodist, and I am called to ministry. Walking away from the UMC was not an option. Fortunately for me, I am a cisgender woman in a long-term, stable hetero marriage. I knew a thing or two about married love.
I figured that the denomination and I would have time during seminary to work out our issues. I was wrong. In my first appointment, I found that the most Spirit-filled leader in the congregation happened to be a woman married to another woman. As I got to know them and grew to love them, I found that their marriage was every bit as strong and fruitful as mine. I discovered that they centered Christ in their marriage, that they felt God had led them to one another, and that their marriage was fruitful in that together they were able to more fully serve their church and be Jesus to their community than either could have done alone.
When the US Supreme Court decision legalized same-sex marriage in 2015, I had to stand on the sidelines in a rented venue while another clergy person from a different denomination presided over their second wedding. Two weddings, and neither took place in the church to which this couple belonged and for which they poured out their prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness. The blessing I received at my own wedding--having my faith community covenant to support our marriage -- that blessing was not made available to my friends, my siblings in Christ. In that appointment, I also maneuvered (poorly) trying to obey the Discipline and yet showing my support for other LGBTQ couples by parsing out which parts of the wedding I could do without breaking the rules. I regret my own cowardice. That church, a small rural congregation in southeastern Oklahoma, has since embraced their authority to bless LGBTQ people in their commitments and callings.
I am now ordained as an Elder in the Oklahoma Annual Conference and serve in a large congregation in downtown Tulsa. The Administrative Board at my church, Boston Avenue UMC, recently approved unanimously policies of non-discrimination in the use of our facilities for weddings. We approved an SPRC policy that allows each clergy person to discern whom to marry regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. I am free, finally, to honor and celebrate the covenant of marriage for couples whom God has joined together. I am free, finally, to lift up and mentor candidates for ministry who are lesbian or gay, bisexual, trans, questioning, or who otherwise consider themselves to be part of the LGBTQ+ community. I am free, finally, to invite Queer people to really participate in our church in whatever ways God has equipped and inspired them, without having to hide or suppress any part of themselves.
As an act of resistance, Boston Avenue and St. Paul's United Methodist Church Tulsa are participating in a series of worship services in the Tulsa area between now and General Conference 2020. Our February service will honor the Resist Harm February emphasis on Love. Boston Avenue is hosting the service that will include an affirmation of commitment and connection for marriage covenants and the covenants we make in community with one another, whether through official or unofficial channels. We affirm that all people are created by God, and are beloved by God. We affirm that God created us with the desire and capacity for covenant commitment with God and people. We will pray with and for members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies who have been harmed by the unloving policies of the United Methodist Church. We will grieve those missed opportunities for witnessing to the love of God when we have refused marriage rites to Queer couples. And we will celebrate that the love between people, even when not sanctioned by the United Methodist Church, is sanctioned and celebrated by God. ALL are welcome to participate in person or via Facebook live at https://www.facebook.com/BostonAvenueUMC. Join us!
Rev. Jen Logsdon-Kellogg (She, her, hers)
Minister of Evangelism & Welcoming
Boston Avenue United Methodist Church, Tulsa Oklahoma
What will you do during February? Learn how you and your community can resist the Traditionalist Plan in February https://resistharm.com/…/2…/01/ResistHarm_Feb_ActsOfLove.pdf
If you are a United Methodist clergy-person and wish to make a statement of conscience by indicating your willingness to receive requests to officiate, please check out and consider signing on to https://marriagerites.org.