After over 20 years of being denied the United Methodist Church’s recognition of God’s calling in her life, Susan J. Laurie was ordained yesterday in a grassroots ordination during the 2016 General Conference in Portland, Oregon. Sue, who earned a Master of Divinity from Garrett-Evangelical in 1995, has not been welcome in the candidacy process for ordination because she is an out Lesbian.
Pointing out that many people are hungry for meaningful worship, Sue said, “I had a great day. We did good church.”
Surrounded by a large group of friends, allies, and witnesses, Sue led those who had gathered in song from the Martin Luther King Jr. statue, which stands outside the Oregon Convention Center. Then, they moved into the Convention Center itself. Once inside, voices were raised in hymns of affirmation and joy. Friends and colleagues from throughout the connection proclaimed holy scripture, reminding those who had gathered that God’s love and grace is unlimited and completely without exception throughout all of creation.
Amy DeLong, Sue’s longtime friend and colleague, offered reflections about Sue’s leadership, teaching, wisdom, and example: “I am standing here today because Sue Laurie changed my life … twenty years ago when I was a student at Garrett on the night the President had a fireside chat about gay and lesbian ‘issues’.
“It was a horrible and painful discussion and near the end of the evening, Sue stood up with (her now spouse) Julie, and as they stood there holding hands, Sue said, ‘We are not an issue, we are people and we just want to be treated like people.’”
Sue and the gathered congregation participated in a traditional United Methodist service of ordination, affirming her call and commitment to ministry.
In the fashion of the “Shower of Stoles” exhibit, many stoles that had been given to Sue as gifts were placed on her shoulders. She believes that those stoles signify the ways in which others have already ordained her into the ministry to which she is called.
The most inspiring moments Sue experienced yesterday were when folks came to her to receive the Eucharist, both during the ordination service and during the Queer Communion during opening worship. Even the people she didn’t know thanked her from the bottom of their hearts.
When asked why she continues to stay in the UMC and struggle for change, Sue speaks powerfully about the LGBTQ children who are being baptized every Sunday in every Annual Conference.
Those same children will eventually be confirmed. Their parents just want to love them, and the church is telling them that they cannot do that completely.
This was the front page article of our May 11th magazine. Download the whole magazine here.