Author: Sonya Siebe, Member, First United Methodist Church Omaha
Dear General Conference Delegate,
Thank you for receiving this e-mail, giving your time, and thoughtfully considering your vote at the upcoming General Conference.
I’m writing to you from Omaha, Nebraska. In 2000, my (now) wife and I began a journey to search for our church home. We were new to the Omaha community and we were discussing the possibilities of starting a family. Naturally, finding a church home became a priority to us. I grew up Missouri Synod Lutheran. My wife grew up Methodist. After doing a bit of research, we created a short list to begin “Church Shopping”. What were we looking for? We weren’t tied to a specific denomination. Rather, we were looking for a church and community that was diverse, had a progressive philosophy, a progressive theology, and were welcoming to all. We were looking for a church that carried these traits out through their actions and weren’t just words published on a website.
After visiting numerous services throughout the Omaha metro area, we found a desire to return to First United Methodist Church. We soon began to call FUMC Omaha our home!
As a same sex couple living in Omaha Nebraska, we weren’t allowed to obtain a legal marriage certificate at the time. We also knew that the Methodist doctrine would not allow us to hold any legal (or not) wedding services within our church home. We decided to have a small destination ceremony in Seattle overlooking Lake Washington. Through blessings and support of our pastor, we connected with a “cool progressive” pastor in Seattle. I will always hold these memories and the powerful words spoken by the Seattle pastor, written by OUR pastor in my heart.
Fast forward to 2019! My wife and I have been together for 22 ½ years (but who’s counting!) and are now legally married. Together we are raising a 13 year old and twin 16 year old children. We continue to attend, support, and participate in the ministry at FUMC, Omaha. Our family actively participates in education hour, we actively serve during worship and in service opportunities. We have an amazing church community that we call our family.
This community, their welcoming inclusive nature, their progressive actions, are vital to my family. The passion, compassion and leadership of our youth gives me pause and hope for our future. I truly believe the world is a better place because we are an inclusive community accepting anyone who desires to seek Gods love in their life.
However, I am saddened to know far too many LGBTQ+ persons who have had a negative experience and hold a negative view of God and Faith due to their personal church experiences, their personal truth. They have been turned away. They have been hurt. They have received Conversion Therapy in the name of God. They have been told they are not welcome. Others have been told they are welcome, but are prohibited to serve in any capacity. I wish everyone had the opportunity to know of Jesus’ LOVE as we do thanks to the progressive philosophies and theology studied within our church community.
Our current doctrine places heavy restrictions on those following their calling because of who they love. Because of love!
Further, our current doctrine places a heavy burden on those following their calling because of who “I” love. Because of love!
I’m writing to you to share our personal story of a church community that actively embodies – Love – Acceptance – Inclusion – Welcoming – Compassion – Mercy – Justice – in the hope that our personal truth empowers you to seek these possibilities for all who call themselves a United Methodist.
Please support my family and our church family by voting for the One Church Plan at General Conference in February.
Thank you again for your thoughtful consideration.