I’m writing in response to the recent article regarding local UMC churches who plan to disaffiliate from their denomination. I was disappointed that the article offered the viewpoint of only one segment of people identifying as Christians.
I worry that publishing this one-sided viewpoint serves to perpetuate the harm done to members of our LGBTQIA+ community by the church.
As a follower of Jesus and an Episcopal priest, I am sorry for the ways that Christians have used the Bible as a weapon to shut out, silence, oppress and demonize fellow children of God. I do not believe that rigid literalism applied to a handful of selected verses taken out of historical and cultural context in order to justify denying the light of God in another human being amounts to a “high standard of interpretation” at all.
Surely the highest standard of interpretation should challenge us to grow in love of God and neighbor rather than confirming our prejudices.
I am sorry that the article made no mention of the fact that there are churches in Blount County where all God’s children are truly and fully welcomed. My congregation, St. Andrew’s, is one of a number that welcomes everyone to participate fully in the life of the church, and in leadership at all levels, whether lay or ordained.
This welcome stems from the commitment we make at our baptism to “seek and serve Christ in all persons” and to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.”
If you are part of the LGBTQIA+ community, please know this: You are a beloved child of God, created in God’s own image. You are beautiful, and you are worthy — just as you are.
The Rev. Amy Bradley
Rector, St. Andrew's Episcopal Church