A time to SPEAK

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1

IMG_3702Dear Beloved Church,

just stop.

stop.  stop.  stop.  stop telling me to calm down.  i know it might unnerve you that a little woman is a loud, passionate disciple of Jesus, but that’s who God made me to be.  and i’m not going to calm down.  it isn’t my way: God has called me to be LOUD for Jesus.  And you, church, the United Methodist Church, you approved my ordination as an Elder in Full Connection.

so stop telling me to calm down.

because i’m not going to calm down, be quiet, sit back and let the Holy Spirit work to “bind us together.”  it’s not my way.  i’m not going to calm down because you church saw and nurtured my gifts, and God ordained me to use those particular gifts to disciple God’s people.  to share the love of God with everyone.  to lead God’s people into a growing relationship with Jesus the Christ.  to engage with and lead the community into following and serving like Jesus.

and your actions paralyze me and God’s work in me and through me.  your actions of silencing, denying, ignoring, hurting God’s people;  your actions (tacit and articulated) have pronounced who the church is before I can even begin to minister.  those headlines about defrocking my colleagues for officiating a same-gender wedding?  those FB posts about the UMC halting the candidacy of my LGBTQIA colleagues?  my community reads the posts and sees the headlines.

and when i’m getting my much-needed (#wishthatwasnttrue) grande with cream at my local Starbucks with my clegy collar on?  these people in my mission field who read the headlines and see the posts … they shake their heads in disgust and turn away from me.  they don’t even let me begin a conversation; your hypocritical actions have paralyzed my ministry, my own call from the very start.  yes, your denial of the Gospel of inclusion, your lack of Biblical obedience, your holding hostage of God’s love and a relationship with Jesus and the community of faith called the church … your actions paralyze my capacity and my ability to disciple God’s people.

Church, you stifle God’s call in me, so i’m not going to just calm down.

you see, i am witnessing God do so many new and exciting things in the Long Beach, California church i serve.  i have baptized babies and served communion; i have preached and taught and been a voice for justice with my church.  i have seen hearts transformed and i have witnessed lives changed because of a relationship with Jesus Christ.  but you, church, are paralyzing my efforts as you are forcing me to be inauthentic about our church and my theological understanding of the inclusive, ever-expanding love of God.  you are inviting me to lead the local church that professes a love of God for all of God’s children … but is part of an institutional church that systemically denies that love to our LGBTQIA sisters and brothers.

Church, you stifle God’s call in me, so i’m not going to just calm down.  

i cannot calm down and i won’t calm down when i feel like i am having to share an inauthentic portrait of the church with people wanting to know … because people in my mission field?  they do want to know.  they want to know God; they want to walk in the way of Jesus; and they want to their pastor to be open, transparent and authentic about how she perceives God and what their church says about who God loves and welcomes.

so stop telling me to calm down.

and start telling me how we are going to take the way, way overdue steps and journey together to being the church that God birthed through the Holy Spirit some 2,000 years counting.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1



~ Pastor Melinda Teter Dodge

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s