I remember the day I first started to question things. I was in KMart with my mom and I didn’t really know how to approach the subject. I knew how I felt, I knew what society and most religions thought, and I was pretty sure I knew what she thought… but how could I just say it? How could I just break the silence? I think we both knew, but we had never really talked about it. So I figured the best thing to do was put it out in the open. I took a deep breath and spoke the words that had been weighing on my heart: “Mom, What does the Methodist Church say about homosexuality?”
My mother didn’t know the answer. She, and I, like many other heterosexual church goers hadn’t ever had a reason to ask. And sadly, my church had never felt the need to tell. Honestly, I hadn’t ever even considered sexuality to be the concern of religion until I started hearing terrible things in the news. It was one of those things where I assumed everyone else thought the same way I did. I assumed a religion who talks about loving one another would not put limitations on that love.
Therefore you can imagine my surprise when I started asking around and discovered that the Methodist Church was not accepting of homosexuality. As I learned this about my church I also learned something about myself; I was enraged! I realized that I had to do something about this. I realized that I had to “come out” as an ally.
I am Courtney and I believe in equal rights for everyone no matter their sexual
orientation or gender identity.
I started having conversations with friends, family, and coworkers. I may have over compensated in the beginning with an “If you don’t love gay people then I hate you!” I was in my teens after all. I started to grow in patience and realized that there was more to advocating for inclusion than arguing.
A big step to me realizing this was the first time I attended the Iowa Annual Conference as a page. I entered HyVee hall as a high school senior not having a clue what to expect. Once again my mind was blown when I heard hate, bigotry, and hurtful arguments from people who claimed to follow Jesus. That first legislative session i had to take a break from passing notes. I escaped to the nearest restroom and took a moment to myself to consider what I was doing in a relationship with a church who held such hatred. Thankfully I was rescued from this despair by a pair of older women delegates who started up some small talk with me. Their words were simple, something along the lines of “We need more young people like you!” but they were enough. I think this is the moment I realized why I had been encouraged to be a page; to see the truth.
I am Courtney and I believe that the United Methodist Church
needs to change.
I have continued to attend Annual Conference; I have been a voting member of the body three times and I have had to take several more mental breaks during legislative sessions. I have learned to use my frustrations as teaching moments for those who will listen. Everyone I know was probably sick of hearing about Annual Conference last year, but this is how change happens; people must first identify the problem. So I made sure everyone knew the problem I was seeing. I have debated sexuality amongst friends, strangers, and coworkers. I have told anyone who will listen about the strife that the Methodist church is struggling with. I have experienced such joy when hearing of states approving same-sex marriage, and then been torn down by backlash. To me, being an advocate for inclusion within the church is not just saying that I am accepting, but living every day as an example of acceptance. Even more, I think that being accepting myself is not enough! I am called to seek out change and foster acceptance in others. We are all called to do this. We are all empowered to do this. Are YOU doing this?
We are the people of the United Methodist Church and we need to believe in equal rights for everyone no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity. We are the people of the United Methodist Church and we need to change.