Outside boundaries or inside them?

More than once, a friend has come out to me saying, “I am gay but I feel called to be ordained in The United Methodist Church?”

Elizabeth Murray

Murray

My first thought is, there are two options:

  1. Don’t openly identify as gay and get ordained, or
  2. Be open about your sexuality and not get ordained.

Is there really any other option?

Many times I ask myself, How can I be in a denomination that does not affirm my friends’ call to ministry?

A part of the body of Christ

I want to be ordained in The United Methodist Church, and I am an ally of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer) community.

I wrestle with being in a denomination that does not ordain LGBTQ people.

I wrestle with being in a denomination that does not ordain LGBTQ people. I feel that we are intentionally excluding a part of the body of Christ, especially those who feel called to ordained ministry in The United Methodist Church.

A pastor once helped me see why there needs to be Methodists advocating for ordination of LGBTQ people.

“Some people are called to be outside the boundaries of The United Methodist,” this pastor said. “Others are called to just have one foot outside the line and advocate for change from within.”

The pastor pointed out that if all allies left The United Methodist Church, there would be no incentive to change.

Happy with decision

I do feel called to be ordained in The United Methodist Church. I am happy with the decision to stay Methodist.

I can full heartedly, however, tell my LGBTQ friends that I will support them in their ministry in any way possible, whether that is in The United Methodist Church or not.

I am trying to stay true to the position of “one foot outside the line.” I do not want to become apathetic for fear that the United Methodist Church may not like what I have to say. I will uphold the Book of Discipline, but I will continue to show my support to the LGBTQ community.

Editor's note: Elizabeth Murray, a native of Johns Creek, Ga., is a third-year Master of Divinity student at Duke Divinity School. She received a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from the University of South Carolina, and plans to be ordained as a deacon in The United Methodist Church. She is serving an internship this summer at the United Methodist General Board of Church & Society, working with its Civil & Human Rights program.

This article was originally posted June 25 as “Why I Decided to Stay in the United Methodist Church” on RMNBlog of the Reconciling Ministries Network.

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