Crossposted at the RMN Blog.
There was a moment yesterday during the trial that I thought we’d lost. Rev. Amy DeLong had already been on the stand, modeling grace and integrity in the midst of indecent and violent questioning. The moment we all knew was coming arrived. The council for the church asked, “Does your relationship involve genital contact?” Due to a judicial council decision, the answer to this question determines if a person is a “self-avowed practicing homosexual.” All eyes were on Amy as she kept her head high and in the face of an oppressive institution said, “There is no way when you are trying to do me harm that I am going to share with you the intimate details of our lives.”
I can’t speak for anyone else, but I was shocked. Not shocked at Amy’s response, but shocked in the next half hour that the church was not permitted to bully Amy into a posture where she’d throw herself under the bus. Shocked that we could and would win. After Amy, the second witness Carrie was called to the stand.
My attitude had shifted when Carrie, of Carrie and Carolyn the lesbian couple whose holy union Amy officiated, took the stand. Carrie began her testimony by sharing why they contacted Amy. They had been turned down by two other pastors to officiate their ceremony. She shared details about the service and why they, a lesbian couple, sought out a pastor for their service. Then Rev. Scott Campbell, Amy’s council, asked a question I expected to hear come from the council for the church – Did Amy have a larger agenda than the blessing of the union? And then Carrie’s unexpected answer broke through the silence, “Yes.”
She blew it, I thought, but then Carrie’s still small voice broken through the fear I’d guarded since the beginning of the trial. “Yes,” she said, “it was about fairness and treating everybody the same.” In one sentence, Carrie broke through the wall of fear I had created to protect myself during this trial. In one sentence, she pulled me from scarcity to God’s abundant love. In one simple sentence, she reminded me that we all have a larger agenda – embodying the gospel of our brother Jesus.
Yesterday, Amy was found not guilty of being a “self avowed practicing homosexual” and guilty of performing a holy union. This morning, as the trial court begins discerning a punishment for the charge against Amy, I pray my 13 sisters and brothers listen deeply for the still small voices that have and continue to call for justice over, through and beyond fear.
Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination. ~Maya Angelou
Rachel is a United Methodist Deaconess appointed to serve as the Associate Executive Director of RMN. Prior to joining RMN in August 2009, Rachel worked for 2 years as a mission specialist with The Advance at the General Board of Global Ministries. As a mission specialist she focused on youth and young adults and created the B1 campaign. From 2004-2006 Rachel was as a US-2 missionary serving as the director of CoffeeLoft.org, a Reconciling campus ministry at The University of South Dakota. Rachel has also worked with Response, a magazine of the United Methodist Women and The Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew, United Methodist (SPSA) in New York City.
"The Trial of the Rev. Amy DeLong Sends Clear Message to UMC" by MFSA, RMN, and Affirmation Coalition Coordinator Rev. Steve Clunn,
the RMN blog,
and the Love on Trial website.