Oh, it’s been a brutal week around here and I am just starting to come up for air. Many of you reading already connect on Facebook but I wanted to make sure and share this here, too.
In the middle of celebrating The Refuge’s 10 Year Anniversary and many other amazing things that have been happening in our community, there’s been a back story conversation related to gay weddings in the Refuge facility. Even though we settled this years ago, agreeing to be a community that lived in the tension of our differences with each pastor, leader, and community member with complete freedom to marry or not marry–and the topic has never come up again–it resurfaced earlier this year related to our facility. This lead to some really difficult conversations. As you know, I am an advocate for full and complete marriage equality in the church. My dear friend and co-pastor, Karl Wheeler, sees this differently. This isn’t about just him and me, but it points to the reality of what we have been trying to do together for a long time now. Through this process, Karl’s theological conviction was that he needed to step aside in a leadership role but remain in the community as part of the LGBQT healing story.
The whole thing touched something very deep inside of me related to justice and faith shifts and community, and I still can’t believe it’s real.
It’s like a weird Twilight Zone moment.
The Refuge is in one of its best and strongest seasons. I have been feeling the free-est I have ever been in my life related to life and faith.
And in the midst of all of that, we somehow ended up in the biggest transition of our life together.
To top of it all off, the announcement comes on the heels of one of the most significant moments in history for LGBQT equality related to the collective grief and realities of Orlando.
Out of everything, the timing on this is one of the parts that is the hardest for my soul.
But at the same time, I am extremely grateful that we are navigating these difficult waters with as much grace and integrity and honesty and health as we possibly can. As painful as it has been, I do believe it is becoming a corrective experience for many, where instead of power plays and church splits, people are experiencing something different. Brothers and sisters dedicated to figuring it out together but having to make tough decisions.
It is not without its costs. I am in some really beautiful but also hard conversations because it’s stirred up so many strong feelings.
But what I love the most is everyone’s passion to do it differently.
To keep pressing forward with love and humility.
To find a way to embody unity without uniformity.
Yet to speak truthfully about the pain we are experiencing and not sugar-coat it.
And most of all, let the painful parts of this transformation lead us to healing in all kinds of ways as a community.
I am one post away from a blog break from the rest of the summer (I know, I keep saying that, but this has turned everything upside down), but I wanted to get this out to you so you could know where things are at with me and my beloved community.
There are a few places you can learn more:
- Karl and I recorded a special edition of Faith Circus If you want to know much more about this in flesh and blood instead of black and white, I hope you will listen in.
- Also, here’s the email and video that we shared earlier this week.
- You can also feel free to email or message me and I’m glad to share anything that will be helpful in understanding our story.
Meanwhile, I really appreciate your prayers for me for these next months. I will be working with Mike, the other co-pastor at The Refuge (he’s a lot more behind the scenes) and a forming-soon team of community members (everyone is invited to be part) dreaming and praying through the new structures that need to emerge out of this that are more aligned with our work as a “mission center and Christian community dedicated to helping hurting and hungry people find faith, hope and dignity alongside each other.” I am really looking forward to what is going to emerge; The Refuge is filled with so many passionate people dedicated to transformational healing community together. Karl and I are doing really well together through this despite the blood and guts and hope to continue to partner on some of the things that we do best–Faith Circus, special events, dignified dialogues, and more.
None of us know what it will all look like yet, but I know this: even though transformation always hurts, in the end, beauty and hope always emerges.
For now, it’s holding on. It’s hanging in. It’s praying for courage. It’s trusting that God’s got us and works in all kinds of wild ways. It’s remembering that dreams are prettier when they’re just dreams. It’s knowing the kingdom of God is a weird crazy paradox where so much beauty and hope and pain and despair and hope and peace can live in the same place at the same time.
Thanks for your love and care.
Hope does prevail.
I’ll be back here Monday with a last wrap up post (for reals) before a much-needed break.