I didn’t leave the United Methodists because of my divorce. I didn’t leave because I was angry with the people. I left because my beliefs changed.
It was hard to leave because I love the United Methodist Church.
Twenty years ago, I got sick and was in the hospital. I was a minister in another denomination at the time, but it was a United Methodist minister who came to sit with me, and it was my United Methodist friends who came to cheer me up. And it was the United Methodist minister’s wife who coordinated food and sitters so my wife could come visit me. For the next several months as I slowly recuperated at home, both United Methodist Churches in that town sent me notes of encouragement, saying they were praying for me.
Consequently, I transferred to the United Methodist Church as soon as I could. While I worked for them, they helped me go back to school to get my master’s degree. With their support I became an Elder in Full Connection, and I was very proud.
If I could have held onto my faith I would still be with them. But if I had stayed then, I would have to leave now because I wouldn’t be able to live with the decisions that are currently being made at the General Conference of 2019.
For years many had hoped that the UMC would grow to recognize its obligation to fully accept the LGBT. However, I was not one of them. I used to be as conservative as they came. I thought of the LGBT as people living a sinful lifestyle.
But while I was with the UMC, I read, thought, and grew up. Consequently, I changed my mind and I came to see them as persons deserving every human right and courtesy. I believed the church as a whole would one day come to this conclusion, too. But it appears that it’s not going to happen.
As I said, if I hadn’t left two years ago, I would be leaving now, as many others are planning to do.