8/20/18

So Long, and Thanks...

For friends, family, and other interested parties:


This week I emailed Bishop Mary Virginia Taylor and informed her that I wish to withdraw my status as an elder in the UMC. This means I am no longer to be a Methodist clergyperson.


I know some of my friends will want to know why I’ve made this decision. The short answer is that it’s what I want. For most of my adult life I’ve been more of a seeker than a believer. And I’m grateful to the UMC for welcoming the seekers of the world, me included. But I find that my need to go on seeking, and thinking freely, has only grown over time, to an extent that I would be playing false if I continued in the role of elder.


Hand-in-hand with this concern has been my growing discomfort with the institution of the church. I intend no disrespect to something which has given me and my family so much. But for many reasons, I’ve found I simply can’t service the institution in the ways it requires, and perhaps deserves. And to be honest, I have no interest at this time in any organized, institutional religion.


Truth to tell, it strikes me as silly to be writing all of this because, really, who cares. On the other hand, I suspect that if I don’t offer some explanation for this decision, there’s no telling what sorts of rumors may emerge. Please rest assured that I was not run out on a rail, nor am I forming a cult. The simple truth is that I am simply being true to myself, and I could not be more grateful to be able to do so. We all know what Shakespeare said about that.


I also know that some people really do care, of course, and I am inexpressibly grateful for you, too. For those individuals I have known in and through the church, I really don’t have the words. Except to say that I am still your friend, even if it is often difficult to reach me by phone, or text, or email. What I desire in all this is simply to live the life of a human being, hopefully a kind and compassionate human being. And with a goal like that in mind, I know at the very least I will never lack for lovely examples.


In the words of the Japanese poet SaigyŨ:


Whatever it is,
I cannot understand it,
but gratitude
stubbornly overcomes me
until I’m reduced to tears.


With all the best to you, dear friends,


Your Friend,
Matt