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Ordinand speaks out on inclusion

June 1, 2017

Kara Scroggins

Kara Scroggins, who was ordained June 1, rose for a point of personal privilege and addressed the body of the Baltimore-Washington Conference. Below is a copy of her remarks.

I don’t know a God, I don’t serve a Savior, who ever walked away from a community’s pain, or shrank back and said, “too broken.”

I am joyful to be a part of this connection, to be recommended and ordained for servant ministry with and among you. I am a United Methodist because it’s not all about me; we each hold such a tiny fraction of God’s vision for the Church, and I celebrate the diversity of servants, lay and ordained, who come together at conference tables and communion tables; who bring vastly different experiences, lines of reasoning, and rich tradition to illuminate God’s Word.

And yet, certain as I am of my call, and hopeful as I am that God is still doing wonderful things in and through the UMC, we fall painfully short. Especially today. We fail to welcome the gifts and celebrate the full humanity of God’s children who are LGBTQ+. Despite all that there is to celebrate, our denomination—this very annual conference—continues to practice discrimination and to cause harm to people; the church harms people who selflessly volunteer their lives in service to it. 

We have a long way to go before we, as Christ’s body, are a church that is unafraid to die for the sake of the people who have been shut out by religious rules. We have a long way to go, and leading up to this day, I have wondered whether the faithful thing for me to do was to stay in as part of the “we,” or to walk away.

Today, I choose to stay. I stay because none of us is given a free pass out of our vocation simply because the human structures of it are broken. If I were to walk away, it would be because there is simply too much pain, too much brokenness, to stay. And I don’t know a God, I don’t serve a Savior, who ever walked away from a community’s pain, or shrank back and said, “too broken.” 

And so, God willing, I am going to be ordained tomorrow. My commitment is to stand with the people who are told there is no place for them at this table. My commitment is to love and include all the people and to use my voice to make room for other voices. I will seek to live kindly, to work tirelessly for justice and change in this beloved community. I will walk humbly with God—listen humbly—alongside those who continue to offer themselves in courageous ways, however long it takes, until the day when “all” means All, and when “open hearts” means Open Hearts. I hope you will join me in renewed and new ways on this journey.

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