A Letter to our Churches

handsWritten by Lydia Wylie-Kellermann in 2012 for the Michigan delegation of United Methodist pastors to General Conference who would be voting on changes to the Discipline around gay marriage.

Dear Delegation,

I have been told by politicians, by laws and disciplines, by bishops, by friend’s partners, by extended family, by neighbors and life long friends, and even by a woman waiting for a bus, that my marriage is wrong. That its mere existence is a cause of harm in this world. I have been told, yelled at, talked about, ignored, starred at, whispered about. Charges have been brought. Invitations politely (and not so politely) declined. Letters written. I have been preached against, told I am not fit for motherhood, scared into silence when I walk through church doors. I have pretended that I am something that I am not out of fear of having biblical verses (taken out of context) used as a weapon against me. I have had people debate the topic with me as if it is nothing more than an issue with sides and not my life, my love, my partnership, my humanity.

I have also known the gift of church. I have been raised within a community that has instilled in me a love of liturgy and discipleship and the study of scripture. I have been held and loved by church communities. My gifts and leadership have been welcomed. I know what it is like to have a congregation honor, trust, and celebrate my marriage. Erinn and I indeed got married within the church and it was a sacramental moment of true gift and grace. A moment that I am grateful to build my marriage upon.

I have known the love and gift of church. And I have known the deep pain and exclusion that churches have and continue to do on this very day.

I am continually reminded that there are thousands of people today that are not so lucky to have received this love within the churches. That so many have walked away with deep wounds, forced to leave behind their roots, and are convinced that who they are is denied not only by their church but by God. How can we allow this?

Has my marriage truly caused harm? Have I hurt you? Does my love, my commitment somehow injure your human dignity?

If there is harm. I am sorry. I mean no harm. I have meant only to stand before God and the church in complete love, towards a new vocation and a deeper step in discipleship, to not walk alone, to find joy and love in another, in children, and in family, to be welcomed by a community that loves me, and to be who God has called me to be. If that is harm, then what is church?

We stand at a crucial moment. We cannot wait any longer. It is time for justice and healing. I offer myself to that work and conversation. I do it hesitatingly knowing the vulnerability and the direct pain that can and will come my way.

How do we begin this healing? How do we address the long time harm against the LGBT community? To begin- call out hate and discrimination and don’t let it be masked as “good bible,” welcome all gifts, name and claim publicly the dignity of all people, trust our hearts and our baptisms, learn from history and repent, don’t uphold injustice and call it “your job,” come to dinner, meet my partner, break bread, honor our stories and our loves, try to hear our pain, always be working towards the beloved community, and remember that we are all children of God.

I respect the discipline, the sacred texts filled with history. I honor your commitments to it. However, if you stake your life on the discipline, force it to be worthy. Let it truly resemble the communities of faith and the Gospel. Let it not be a document used to uphold injustice, discrimination, and oppression.

You all hold great power with your hands. My life, my future, my children’s future will be affected by the decisions you make. Will my children know a church that is welcoming, loving, and reflects a desire for the beloved community? Or will they know a church that treats them as less, that denies their parents, and preaches injustice?

You each have tremendous power in the coming months. That cannot be denied. You can honor that and speak from your heart or you can be silent. Either way, you make a choice and history is affected. I urge you, on the behalf of thousands- believe in a God of love and compassion, listen to stories and hold them in your hearts, and follow the Gospels that welcome all people to the table even when it is risky and has serious costs.

With complete gratitude,




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