“Yet, I am not a rebel. I do not seek to stand in the pulpit and call people to defy the denomination. All I seek is to share the love of God for ALL of God’s people. I understand God’s people to be ALL people. I cannot, in good conscience, declare Christians to be the only people of God, nor can I declare Jesus to be the only Incarnation. Though he may be the Incarnation of God’s Presence that I follow, I believe his message was to all people, in all times, in all cultures and in all walks. God is Love. Love transcends denomination, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual preference, culture, and ALL other boundaries. This is what I want to bring to the world – Love that transcends. As I think about this, I realize. I have Lost Church, Found Jesus!”
This paragraph comes from a blog I have since removed from my page, because, well, the first sentence is absolutely true. I am not a rebel. The original piece was rather rebellious. I was seeking to explain – to myself and others – the reason I withdrew from a program I had once thought myself called into. I wrote a few things that perhaps I should not have done. I hurt a few people I didn’t intend to hurt. Do I take back what I said? Do I say I didn’t mean it? No. I wrote the truth of my heart. My regret is that I shared a little too much of personal conversation, perhaps unnecessarily. I believe I came across as denigrating a church I love, though I am uncomfortable with certain aspects of it. I disagree with certain tenets. I am not alone in those disagreements. I do not apologize for laying them on the table. I apologize only for writing anything that was hurtful to other individuals, people I respect and care about, both in the blog and in comments on social media. I’ve certainly never meant to be hurtful or inappropriate. People who know me must certainly understand that. I often assume everyone understands my context. That’s very immature and naïve of me.
Of course, I haven’t “lost church.” Not really. If I did, it was temporary. It wasn’t long after leaving that path that my friend and mentor The Rev. SonsirisTamayo held out her hand and led me to the Universal Anglican Church. The UAC is open, affirming, and transcendent. It is a denomination of Christ’s church, yet it is more than that, just as Christ is more than the man Jesus. The UAC accepted me, with my Neo-Pagan/Wiccan history, my liberal Claremont School of Theology education, my Methodist childhood, my love of John Wesley, and my rather Universalist outlook. It is because Bishop Craig and the other Bishops and leaders of the UAC have accepted and supported me that I am able to begin the ministry of St. Brigid in the Desert, albeit slowly. I have not forgotten the support I have received from the United Methodist Church. I will never forget the assistance and encouragement I continue to receive from many in that denomination, particularly in the Desert Southwest Conference.
During the time I was in discernment for the UMC, I alternately felt absolutely sure I was in the right place and completely confused about where I stood within the “system.” I wanted to be totally authentic, open, and honest, but never knew for sure if the totally authentic me was acceptable. I’m not sure I ever found out. Or, maybe I did. There were a few times at the end where I misunderstood what was expected of me. When my errors in judgment were pointed out to me, it was too late. In retrospect, I’ve come to realize that I am often unclear because my word choices are too ambiguous. When I am told something, I don't repeat it back to be absolutely certain I know what has been said. I think perhaps it's because I’ve been afraid of not being good enough.
Of course, I am good enough. I’m just not perfect. Not yet, anyway. The leadership in the UAC saw enough potential in me to trust me to start a ministry in Arizona. They saw enough to fly me to Milwaukee for ordination. I think they recognized my Call. It is similar to so many of theirs. Having seen so many people disenfranchised by the church for many different reasons, we want to reach out to them. Some of us have either been hurt by the church or felt unwelcome in church, as I did for many years before I joined Gold Canyon United Methodist Church. We understand why so many have left and will never go back to the traditional church.
So many of the disenfranchised seek a spiritual home, and there are many ways that we can be that for them. God/dess is so much more than one religious tradition can possible incorporate. We who are clergy in the UAC have experienced God’s touch in many ways, often in practices that are not traditionally “Christian.” We are unafraid to bring traditions together in a revolutionary way. We are all followers of Christ’s Way, in our own ways. There are many like us who have discovered that God is not just in the church. Instead of leaving the church, we want to bring the church back to those who couldn’t find the God they knew inside the old one.
In my original blog, I recognized that there are many individuals within the older denominations who are diligently working toward reform from within. I respect and honor them. I acknowledged that I could not do that. I spent too many years outside the denomination, seeking my place in the River of God.
Here I am, a Priest in Christ’s Church, ordained by the Universal Anglican Church to serve those who need what I have to offer – God’s transcendent, immediate, unfettered Love. I serve in many ways and in many places. I serve in the workplace and in the streets; I serve in person and on the telephone. I serve on hilltops in city parks and in living rooms and wedding chapels. I serve wherever God calls me. Sometimes, I even serve in the United Methodist Church.
I am truly sorry for anything I have said, done, posted, or otherwise manifested that hurt someone along my path.
Still, maybe I am a bit of a rebel after all.