On Jan. 3, Rev. Cynthia Meyer was called by God to acknowledge the beauty of diversity of God’s creation and the unconditional truth about God’s love. She did so publicly in an intentional, courageous, and life-changing sermon before her congregation, sharing that she is in a committed relationship with another woman.
Rev. Meyer is pastor at Edgerton United Methodist Church in Edgerton, KS. On Jan. 15, just 12 days after her sermon, she met with the authorities at the Great Plains Conference of the United Methodist Church in Topeka.
Currently, the United Methodist Church - Book of Discipline states, “The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in the United Methodist Church.”
As Rev. Meyer met with officials from the denomination on the 15th, she was not entirely alone. About 150 people gathered outside the Great Plains Conference building on a chilly, windy, winter day. I was honored to stand with pastors and members of congregations, from Wichita, from Kansas City, and I am certain from points beyond. It was an honor to stand with these brave people as they braved more than the cold on this day. They were braving the act of publicly outing themselves as LGBTQ allies.
It is not my intention to write about the positions of the Methodist Church. I am not knowledgeable enough to do so - AND - I don’t believe it serves any useful purpose here. It is my intention to talk about the unconditional love and faithful courage I witnessed.
The people with whom I stood that day, were not there in spite of their faith. They were there because of their faith. Because their faith tells them unconditional love is supposed to be just that - unconditional.
Not because their faith tells them that they are standing in opposition to God. Because their faith tells them that walking with God demands standing up for all human beings who are subjected to oppression and marginalization.
And not because their faith embraces fear. Because their faith engages courage. The courage to raise their voices in support of a person who needs their love.
Psalm 27:1 says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid?”
Talking with my friend Linda, who made an hour-long trip to be there, we acknowledged that this vigil was a step on the road; a very long road that takes its toll on real, living human beings. It takes the lives of far-too-many young people who have determined that they cannot face the torment of choosing between authenticity and faith. Enter a horrible, undeniable, twisted irony - authenticity is one of the most precious and unconditional acts of faith any human being can choose.
This understanding walks together with understood certainty - this precious act of unconditional faith undoubtedly lit the spark of life for a child in the desperate act of choosing between life and death. Also walking on this road is the indisputable fact that the people with whom I stood that day, who chose to brave the cold, also chose to brave the consequences of being an ally.
I am a firm believer that the rainbow stretching across the sky speaks definitively about the diversity of God’s creation and the unconditional love God shares so freely with everyone. And I have no doubt that someday, God’s love for everyone will prevail.
In the meantime, I will always be thankful that I made the choice that day to be a part of an unconditional act of faith. l