Jul 19 2012

Angelic Troublemaker: My Coming Out (Part I): Why I Left the Church… and Where Am I Going?

Original post at http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/AngelicTroublemaker/~3/3sp8cNdGdpo/my-coming-out-part-i-why-i-left-church.html

Dear Readers,

I need you to tell me what to do with the rest of my life... I need raw, real, harsh, and direct honesty. Channel less, friendly advice, and more, early 90's lunch room lady (just slop it on my tray... I don't have to eat it). Even if you only know me via Twitter or this Website, speak freely, even if that means being anonymous. 

I took personal leave from being pastor of a church in January. I left for many reasons (if you want specifics, I require lunch). One of the major reasons I chose to take leave and have chosen thus far not to come back is to take time for discernment. When my passions in ministry were causing more friction and stress than symmetry and joy, I knew it was time to evaluate where I was and reconsider where I am going. I did not want to get 30 years out and look back disappointed that I did not give my life to what I was really passionate about. 

Here is what I have dreamed up during the past 6 months of discernment:

I dream of being a bridge between faith communities and LGBTQ communities. Many churches I have been part of have the theological beliefs for inclusivity, but do not have the language, tools, time, resources, strategy, and structure to live into that theological framework. They lack the real courage and boldness of community organizers, advocates and activists. Some are fearful to speak truth to power, especially when that power involves money. I dream of a church that is ready to reach out and be a real presence in LGBTQ communities. I dream of being their pastor, offering a connection to the church, even if they never set foot into a traditional sanctuary. I want to create sanctuaries among the gathered community that is too scared and angry to come close to a church. I dream of engaging those afraid to receive LGBTQ persons into their lives; helping them to come out of their own closets of certainty locked by fear. I dream of a church where dreamers aren't silenced or forced to focus on those inside the walls. I dream of being a LGBTQ activist pastor employed by a church, who works outside the church.

I also dream of being a bridge between LGBTQ activist organizations and faith communities. Equal rights organizations have the language, tools, time, resources, strategy, and structure to work for inclusivity, but sometimes lack the theological framework or language to communicate their passions with faith communities. There have been times in our country's history where parts of the Church have worked together with activists, each group hearing the justice language of the other in their own tongue. When injustice like slavery, child labor, workers' rights, and racial and gender equality reared their ugly heads, change happened most effectively when the Church and secular worked hand and hand. The time is right for us to join together again. We need the passions of the better parts of each group inside and outside the Church to find friendship in the other. I dream of being a LGBTQ activist pastor employed by an organization, translating their passion for social justice into a theological framework that faith communities can digest and join in action.

This is the work I want to give my life to. Just like MLK and Dorothy Day; just like Harvey Milk and Bayard Rustin. I just need help finding my next step. I am looking for a full time job. I am willing to consider relocating anywhere. My writing has led to countless conversations with people doing this faithful work all over the country. I'm just ready for these conversations to take some more concrete shape. I know something will come and it will be great. Everyday in the last month, I have met new people giving me directions. Would you help me interpret my dreams? 

Part II coming soon, but until then, let the comments roll... 

About the author

Andy Oliver

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2012/07/my-coming-out-part-i-why-i-left-the-church-and-where-am-i-going/

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