Missing my Grandmother, Reflecting on the UMC

Hearing the news today of the constitutional amendments that did not pass in the UMC makes me deeply aware of how much I miss my Grandma Voreis. She has influenced my faith more than any other person on earth. She was passionate disciple of Jesus, a teacher, a mother, a grandmother, an artist, and a writer. She wrote poetry, plays, short stories and letters about her faith and love of God. Her only exception to writing about faith (that I know of) was the personalized birthday poetry she wrote to her family members. She came to the UMC by way of the EUB church. My father tells me that she wasn’t fully in favor of the 1968 merger because she didn’t feel the Methodists had done enough about racism – but that is as much detail as my dad knows.

What wouldn’t I give to be able to ask her about that today? Perhaps she could help me make sense of why the UMC failed to pass an amendment that provided “constitutional protection not only for race, color, national origin, status and economic condition (these presently exist in the constitution), but sought to add gender, ability, age, and marital status.”* Perhaps she could help me discern what it means to stay in a church that you have a deep disagreement with. What it means to be a woman in the candidacy process and a mother of two young women, in a church that won’t add to its constitution “that both men and women are made in the image of God and that we as a church seek to eliminate any discrimination against women and girls.” There is some solace in the fact the other places in the Book of Discipline and Social Principles affirm women and people of all abilities. Some.

This photo is of my grandmother’s introduction to an Agape Feast celebrating the merger that created the UMC. She describes the Agape meal as “a celebration of what God has been doing in the world. It is a time to enjoy one another’s fellowship, to talk about the concerns of the group as well as personal ones. In fact, it is a kind of party where people get to know each [other] and can enjoy being together.”

Today doesn’t feel anything like a party. In a church spending significant time and money trying to find a way forward, today seems like a move backward. Lord, have mercy.

*from Bishop Sally Dyck’s pastoral letter.

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