Attending GMC Ordination: Experience and Reponse

To: Cathy

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Regarding first ordination of clergy by Alabama-Emerald Coast Conference of The Global Methodist Church  at St.James Methodist Church, Montgomery, AL

“I thought of you many times this weekend. Almost every one of us had a story similar to yours, ordination denied in spite of education, experience, passion, and calling. Well in truth, I stopped trying before I was labeled unworthy and unwelcome. But I knew. I knew I would never be approved by them while knowing absolutely that I was called and approved by God. Just as you were. Yesterday was very healing for so many. We finally felt accepted and welcomed. We were no longer “just” a local pastor, standing on the outside looking in. We didn’t dwell on our pain or our past, but there was so much joy after the ordination service. We heard words like “this was long overdue”. “You worked for years for this, and we appreciate you and welcome you.”

You’ve inspired me in my journey and I want you to know that.”


Dear Sister-Friend (and REVEREND!)

I don’t know what to say. I was simply obedient to God who would not let me walk away for the 4 years I hung in under duress during the final ordination process in 2014-2017. I knew in my first embattled ordination interview in 2014 my odds of being ordained were effectively 0. Even so, that left 10 % chance that God was at work on a miracle that would rollback the growing progressive tide swell. I watched my first ordination interview unfold in 2014 and realized I was lulled into a false sense of safety as a provisional then ambushed that day by a room full of people I didn’t know and who certainly didn’t know me, my heart, or my commitment to Christ. I watched with astonishment at their lines of questioning, feeling the disdain and contentiousness almost to the point of seeing a spiritual battle at work raging over our heads, as if I were merely observing instead of being examined. I asked God, ” What in the world is happening here???”. His calm reply was, “This is not about you. It is about a bigger battle. Wait and watch.”.

Bishop Paul Leeland was, in my observation, sent to AWFUMC to break the back of the traditionalist “resistance.” I and several other trad candidates were either delayed (as I was) or discontinued or dropped out that year in our conference. Leeland had only 2 more years, until 2016, to finish the job. Traditional elders started retiring en mass, it seemed, after GC 2012, my provisional commissioning year. I was discontinued in 2016, the year the handwriting on the wall became clear to many about the agenda and determination of many progressives, and COB’s and Judicial Council’s collusion with it at GC 2016 and beyond. But I appealed and fought for another year for traditional candidates’ rights to be in the UMC. And I won the appeal in clergy session in 2016, the first time a candidate had ever appealed discontinuation and won in defiance of the Board, I was told. Needless to say, I only became one that had to be dealt with more sternly and pointedly. The level of attacks against me at that point were ramped up even more. A strategy to terminate my candidacy and discontinue me again in 2017 was set in place. I went into the interview that year knowing the battle for the heart of the UMC and AC for trads was over. I had prayed for God to release me from it or give me the words to say in the interview as they prepared to discontinue me again. And bless his heart, one likable Board member I respected unwittingly “teed it up” for me with a very straight-up simple question that God coincidentally equipped me for, though I had no expectation the topic would ever appear in this setting! I knew that was my cue and I left them speechless and stunned for a minute, said what God put on my lips, thanked them for their time and left, relieved that I was free of further engagement with the Board and the AC. I haven’t returned to Blue Lake for anything church related (Or Emmaus, either, for that matter) since that day. That part of any loyalty to UMC and AWUMC was done. I continued in our local congregation with promises and the hope that our congregation, at least would be continuing in biblical orthodoxy, though no one, even in 2017, could foresee Special GC 2019, the Protocol, and all that has happened since. My husband wanted to leave Methodism altogether after 2014, but went along with my desire to give the 10% possibility of a miracle change in UMC a chance. He didn’t live to see GMC become a reality, but I know he was celebrating this past year as our congregation navigated through the rough waters of disaffiliation and yesterday as my heart nearly exploded with gratitude and joy to see you, Elaine, Nancy, Lisa, Tommy, Terry and others ordained!

Tears formed and flowed from the time the ordinands poured the water and scooped it up and let it return to the basin three times (as my mind repeated “baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit..) and as we, a gathered church, reaffirmed our covenant together. The tears continued through the Scripture readings, the songs, and Bishop Jones’ message. I asked the Lord, “Why am I so emotional? This is the the most joyful and sacred ordination of at least 15 or 20 I have attended in 40+ years?? I’m celebrating the start of a new thing!”. His prompt reply was, ” The bride always cries at her wedding.” I was surprised and I laughed, a bit amused and very much delighted at that!

I have understood for years all believers to be “the Bride of Christ”, His Church, His coveted and covenanted partner in incarnation and mission through the power of the Holy Spirit. Whenever He would instruct my heart about “the Church” I would ask…. “at what level… individually? My ministry or congregation? Our AC? The UMC? Or are You speaking of the Church Universal?”

So I’ve known that my life and ministry in Christ is a manifestation of His Bride at an intimate, personal level as well as at a corporate level.

I immediately felt Him further say in my Spirit… “Just as every believer is a manifestation and representative of Christ’s Bride, so also is every ordained leader you are looking at a manifestation, a representative of the Bridegroom. They offer themselves to the Bride. She receives Christ in them , and the marriage feast that will be ultimately culminated in Heaven is manifested and represented on earth.”

Just as the service’s reaffirmation of baptism gave us a glimpse back to our own respective past baptisms, to recall the mystery and beauty of that moment…. so also does this image of the Bride and Bridegroom, Christ and His Church, give us a preview of the future marriage and wedding feast of the triumphant returning Christ with His Church forever in eternity.

One can get trapped in that metaphor and start parallelism with abusive marriages, emotional or physical abandonments, cordial or contentious divorces and on and on…..

But for just a moment in time, I felt the rapturous joy of seeing the mystery and beauty of The Church, Bride with her Bridegroom, through God’s eyes…… and I think my tears of joy and celebration mirrored those of a proud Father who is teaching us how to do His will, on earth as it is in heaven.

May our union, Bridegroom(s) and Bride, leaders and congregations, be blessed with all the hope, strength, wisdom, and perseverance to endure well in the eternity, on this side of the future Heaven, that began for all of us at our baptisms…..

Experiencing God’s BEST daily……

With love and appreciation for you all who received your orders yesterday, I remain…..

Your God-called, global-church ordained, at-large
deacon servant of Jesus Christ, on call to all whom He brings to me, and in ministry to all the world…..



P.S. It was such a blessing to see you and your dear husband in the service yesterday. I had planned to write you to tell how it blessed my heart, but you reached out first and I forgot to include that moment when he came up to join in laying hands on you. Truly a precious sight….. I had hoped I might experience that in 2014 with Bill at my back, the year I turned 60. Now I’m about to turn 70 in February and am happily settled in my Christian Leaders Institute deacon ordination since the UMC process ended. It is a global ministry education institution that equips and ordains lay and clergy all over the world for local transformative ministry. They accepted my prior work, had me take 3 additional classes, as I recall, and I was ordained as a deacon. It was, I believe, made available and conferred by God, after He gently told me not to make The UMC an idol, that regardless of my church affiliation, I am “Bride” and Christ is “Bridegoom”. It is that simple. It has served my need for clergy connection well and is accepted by my local congregation, the State of Florida, and those I serve. I got a call with an inquiry six or so months ago about whether I wanted to apply for GMC ordination. I appreciatively thanked them for the inquiry and respectfully declined. It wasn’t about me in 2014 in that first interview and it isn’t about me now…..I’m just grateful to have served God’s will as best I could and was very grateful and content with all He did through that season of my life, as difficult and incomprehensible as it was to me at times….


This is s preview of what the wedding feast of the Lamb will look like….