on Saturday, March 14th, an event called "Queerly Grafted" was held at St. Croix [Vineyard] Church in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada. the event was part of St. Croix Church's decision to be public, intentional, and explicit about being an affirming congregation - PIE Day - though due to COVID-19 concerns, there was no pie and the larger event was postponed.
Queerly Grafted was "an evening of song and stories in which LGBTQ+ people shared their stories of pain and appreciation and grief in their relationship with the Vineyard movement." St. Croix Church was asked to leave Vineyard Canada due to their "belief and practice in performing same-sex marriages and celebrating full inclusion and affirmation of LGBTQ+ family, friends, and neighbours." at the end of the Queerly Grafted event, any queer individuals who wanted to share were invited to speak. here is what I shared:
I grew up in the United Methodist Church (UMC) in the United States. last year, at the UMC General Conference, the denomination adopted the Traditional Plan, the most restrictive and non-affirming option of those presented. one of the speakers for an affirming outcome was J.J. Warren; he spoke of wanting to be a pastor in the UMC because he loved the tradition. J.J. saw the UMC as his home.
the UMC was my home as well – even as I grew older and saw its imperfections. until last year, it felt like I always had a place there if I wanted to visit when I was in the US. when the UMC adopted the Traditional Plan, they made me feel like I was no longer welcome; they made me doubt if I ever truly had been welcome.
inspired by my own journey.
Andie stuffed the last storage bin in her car and closed the door. she was relieved a sliver of visibility remained from the driver’s seat through to the back window.
after driving for only a few moments, her phone began buzzing. when she stopped at a gas station and glanced at the texts piling in, her suspicions were confirmed: her friend since childhood, her flatmate Bethany, had adopted one of the small feline siblings of Andie’s grey kitten, Pepper. she smiled to herself and went to pump gas, hearing the phone jingle with new messages even as she closed the door.
the gas station building was tiny so she was grateful the afternoon was a quiet one. only as she had finished paying and was leaving did another customer come in.
as Andie drove, questions flittered through her mind. she wondered what Bethany would name Pepper’s sibling; why the driver of the SUV in front of her had failed to signal their intent to merge into her lane before doing so; what it was about the person who had entered the gas station as she had left that made her feel clunky. the last question lingered as she reached the toll highway and paid the amount to continue her journey toward Levettport.