It's no secret that I've had a long and conflicted relationship with the United Methodist church over the past several years, particularly in relationship to the process of ordination and getting the blessing of that community on my calling and my ministry. Several months ago a series of events began unfolding that I will not share in detail here because I know I can't do it without hurt, anger, and condemnation. And the details that are significant leave no room for anonymity, but all of that won't benefit anyone, so I'm going to simply take it as another one of those 2x4 moments from God where there is no more doubt in my mind that something has to change.
Something has indeed changed in my life since then. Jeff and I were finally able to find a church home. He was never especially comfortable in methodist churches, in part because of the connected nature and the fact that I know (or at least have met or know of) a whole lot of people. As I began to feel as though I was no longer chained to the UMC (and make no mistake about it, I did feel like I was a prisoner of this process for a long time!) we were both freed to find a place where we both felt at home, where we fit, where we felt we could be an active part of the community. Remember way back when I talked about church shopping? Yeah, that's still the list we were pretty much using.
I don't know how, but something planted the seed in my mind that perhaps it would be looking into what was different about the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) and see if there was a CBF church near us. For the most part I liked what I found about CBF in general and I found a church in Pelham that looked very promising! The thing that really caught my attention was that I knew their interim pastor - she is the wife of a very good friend and colleague of mine. So I cornered said colleague and basically had him give me the scoop on this church. It was incredibly helpful and Jeff and I went visiting.
Immediately we were both very comfortable. As luck would have it, just as we started visiting the church was in the process of calling a new pastor, and he started not long after we did. We both also really like him and have really felt like this is the place for us. Jeff has joined the choir and I'm slowly starting to get to know people. I love having a community that we can call our own.
Yesterday I had a meeting with the pastor to begin having some conversation about who I am, what I do, where I feel I have been called, and how I can and should go about getting the blessing of this community on that. It was honestly the most supportive and affirming conversation I have had in over ten years, especially in respect to ministry! I really don't know exactly where things are going to go from here, but I know that I have some great people in my corner who will be journeying with me and I am SO incredibly thankful for the fact that we really have been able to find our way home to this community!