From me to the preacher at my mom's childhood church:
I'm searching for a new church home and am considering trying Immanuel. A little about myself. I am Lutheran but my mother grew up in your church and my great-grandfather was pastor there a long time ago. I've visited your church several times in the past.
The real issue:
I am a 39 year old single woman who is pregnant by IVF. I've recently had a horrible experience with my Lutheran pastor in which he stated that what I'd done was a mortal sin and that my soul was in danger. Also, that I should have more humility and repent so that I could better cling to the cross. There was no kindness or sympathy in his delivery. I explained to him that I didn't feel that I'd done anything wrong and that I'd never felt closer to God than while on my journey to become pregnant. I feel I have no choice but to find another church home.
I would like to know your church's views of IVF and single pregnancy before trying out your church in earnest.
Thank you for your time,
From Pastor Jackie to me:
Hi Paige – the United Methodist Social Principles are very vague on many controversial issues because the Father of Methodism, John Wesley had an understanding that finding the presence and creativity of the Holy Spirit in one’s life is much more important than any one issue. The church folks here at Immanuel UMC are fairly open to new ideas and I, as the serving Pastor encourage the spirit of open minds and open hearts. Personally, I feel that we are all in need of the grace of God, and as we admit that, we receive God’s abundant love and peace to live full and courageous lives to embrace new ideas. I have a hard time feeling that I have the right to judge anyone to damnation! I am trying to understand who your mother might be, and what your Great grandfather’s name was.
Try us out – you are certainly most welcome to join us in our faith journey to find God’s will for our lives each and everyday. We have early morning praise service at 9 am and traditional at 10 am. November 21st we have only one service at 10 am. This will be our Blessing Sunday in which we will recognize the ways God has blessed our journey!
I haven't cried through out this whole ordeal. I've been angry and hurt and certainly gotten choked up about it especially when I talked out loud about it. When I got this kind email from the pastor though, I cried and cried.
From Pastor Jackie to me after I'd explained who my family is:
Oh yes, those names do sound familiar. Immanuel celebrated 150 years last year. And I remember hearing stories of D.C. Williams – Good Ones!!! Please feel invited to Immanuel anytime—all the time! Pastor Jackie
From my mother after I'd forwarded Pastor Jackie's first email:
Thank you for sending this to me. I've been very upset by this experience for you. I know you won't let this person's terrible words shake your faith. This is a wonderful & beautiful thing you are doing. How can he say such things about bringing new life into this world? I hope Pastor Jackie's words brought you some comfort. If you'd like to go to Immanuel, I'll go with you. It's funny that she should use the word "courageous", I've said that many times when talking about your journey. I hope you understand how very proud of you I am. Everything that person said is absolutely wrong, worse that wrong, dangerous. It will take some time for you to dispel the negativity this had caused, but for both your physical & mental well-being, I hope you can do it quickly. You must know how well loved you are by your family, friends and God, as is your child. Hope you feel better. Talk to you tomorrow.
God, Thank you for email. Amen