Backgroud: The office of the city of Cookeville from the United Methodist Church contacted me to see if I was willing to meet with them to see if my license as a local pastor was going to be renewed. That came as totall suprised to me because I thought that was a closed case in my life, and I was moving on. Their response was this:
You have not been discontinued. The D.S. can ask a local pastor to surrender credentials, but the dCOM has the responsibility to continue or discontinue local pastors. There has been no request from anyone for you to be discontinued until your last email”
In response to that email, and after crying for a couple of hourse, this was my response:
Thank you for letting me know the specifics of this, I am glad someone had the time to explain to me exactly what was happened. Last July, I went to a 4 months unemployment, and it was only because of my friends who I was able to survive, because I receive free rent, groceries and even gas money to be able to live, while the church who brought me from Mexico to USA was in complete silence, without any formal explanation , not even a call to see if I was doing ok or I needed some help. (the bishop send me a facebook message to thank me for my 10 years of service). Mahatma Gandhi once said: “I like your Christ, I do not Like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ”, of course I cannot generalized because there are so many Christian friends who have stood up with me and Paula during these difficult moments, not just in our personal lives, but in the abandonment we got from the leadership we served.
My friend, I loved the United Methodist Church, one time a leader among you told me that I was the most Wesleyan of the Hispanic Pastors in the Tennessee Conference, for me that was a great compliment because this is the church where I found the grace of God, the Grace that surrounded me and was able to help me accept my reality. At the same time it was the church who reversed their motto to become a close door, close mind, and close heart. But It has been 7 months, and my life, thanks to the grace of my God and the loving support of my friends has been able to raise up once again, and it is moving in the right direction, on truly helping my community; I am back doing what I have always loved to do. This has been my call and passion for life. I have been accepted by many and with no doubt about it, the immerse power of the Universe—call it God, Goddess, Mother Nature, or Buddha—is helping me to become the person I was always intended to be.
I have never wanted to be discontinued from the church I loved, but I think you have already done it when you opened the doors for me to leave, back in July 2010, closed it, and forgot about my life. I asked to have 5 minutes in annual conference to thank the conference for their support and you gave me nothing, the only one who was able to stand up and asked for a personal moment to recognize my years of serving in the church was the same person who brought me here: Tom Halliburton, someone who has, is and always be in my heart. So I have never said I want my license to be taken away, that is up to you, if you keep accepting my call from God as a vulnerable and real person, and as someone who has embraced and cherished his free life.
At the same time I am not going to keep pretending; I was able to free myself from the guilt impose in my life for many years through out so many Bible believers(not their fault), and the saddest thing is that, one time, I believed the same, and I tried all to be changed. So I think the closeness of the church to my leadership, even though was and is still painful, was the best that could happened to me, because after a short period of hardship, I ended up working in a place where I have experienced true acceptance and support, and we are making a significant change among the most affected people.
I am the one who wish you the best in all you are doing, and I hope the United Methodist Church can truly become what its motto says, “An Open Door, Open Hearts , and Open Mind”, that will be my on going prayer
All my best to you…
A Former Local Pastor, and free spirited person