There is something rather wierd about reading an e-mail that catches your eye in your spam box, clicking a link and hearing something of your own story being broadcast. It becomes slightly more strange when you realise that whilst the central narrative is correct the ending given is incorrect and time has moved forward.
So it was this morning when I clicked on a clicked on a Premier Radio update entitled Ignite: Inclusive Church and listened to this interview with Sarah Hagger Holt one of the authors of the Living it Out book, to which I contributed.
During the interview I heard part of my story being told. It was wierd, it was all a long time ago now.It is nearly 3 years since the incident referred to….although I believe the housegroup meeting talked about will always remain imprinted upon my mind as it was one of the most significant and in some ways painful evenings of my life. Here is the post I made the day after my resignation of church membership was announced to the church and I felt I had to explain why I had made the decision I had. It was wierd listening to somebody else telling my story in the third person, yet the fact I could without emotion overwhelming me shows how time moves on and healing takes place.
In the interview the ending goes that I am still in the Baptist church where it happened, and this is where I feel I need to clarify a few details that got a bit mixed up in the interview.
Firstly: in the interview it says I had been in that Baptist church all my life. That’s not quite right. I had been in the Baptist denomination since the age of 10, becoming a member aged 14. In total I was in 3 Baptist churches. The one I grew up in and got married in. The one I worshipped in as a young adult and got Third Party dedicated in and was a member of until my late twenties. Then this final one which I was a part of for the eight years while I lived in Kent…..and which in many ways I will always view as a “home church”.
Secondly: I’m not actually a member of that church anymore. In 2008, as regular readers will know, I left that church to move to Durham. The ending of the story relating to the Baptist Church was that whilst I was not a member anymore, when I moved they gave me a substantial “love gift” towards my first years fees. It was called a “love gift” because that way they were emphasising that whilst they may not agree totally with all I say or do they love me and wanted to support me as I am. That “love gift” was unanimously voted upon by the church meeting, containing many people who knew my orientation.
On arriving in Durham I ended up in a Methodist Church….God being somebody who doesn’t hold onto denominational barriers or affiliations. Here there has been a different “coming out” process going on, one which has been different, but generally easier for various reasons, although the fear of “how will people react?” is still there sometimes, for me.
Moving on the final, current chapter, is I am having to consider the issues again. This time in light of what is appropriate for someone entering local preacher training and who may be exploring vocations working within the church in a lay capacity, or maybe at some point way down the track something else. For me this is a process which I am taking very slowly; it demands much soul searching as for me the key question throughout this journey has been, “am I acting with integrity and with respect towards those whose views differ from my own?”