Tich’s parents divorced when he was two years old. He was the third born of four children. After some years, his mother remarried. She was married as a second wife (to a man who had one other wife already). Soon after his mother’s marriage, Tich was called to ministry. Soon after his case was reviewed by the official board for clergy candidacy, some members of the board told him his candidacy could not be considered due to his mother being a second wife.
Tich’s name was submitted to the board repeatedly by his local pastor, who believed Tich could make a difference as a minister of the gospel. Finally, one of the board members had the courage to pose the question. Who are we recommending for candidacy: the young man who was president of the UMYF, lay leader, and a district youth representative… or his mother? And what difference does it make in the grand scheme of things?
Thank God they asked the question. Tich was truly called. Over the course of his career, he became General Secretary for the Central Conference, a director for many programs, served many agencies within his annual conference, and served as a senior pastor for several churches. If Tich had been excluded from candidacy because of his blended family, the loss would have been immeasurable.
From about 1917 thru the 70s, western protestant missionaries came to Africa and demanded monogamy as a part of Christian holiness. This was imposed upon indigenous people whose ancestors had practiced polygamy for thousands of years. Increasingly, the European Christians’ insistence upon a man having only one wife destroyed families and left many women and children destitute and struggling to survive. Discrimination and economic devastation was the outcome from this act of Christian piety.
Many of our Central Conference delegates are either first or second-generation descendants of these “blended families”. In Biblical terms, many Old Testament saints and heroes like Abraham, David and Solomon had blended families. But most UMC groups-- including the Love Your Neighbor Coalition-- do not support polygamy. That’s partly because this subject can be very uncomfortable for most westerners to discuss. However, the Love Your Neighbor Coalition does support care for all types of families, blended or otherwise.
As we contemplate full inclusion, we must consider the fact that many of our United Methodist family members come from blended families. We may not agree on this issue, but we need to break the silence. The question stands: does full inclusion extend to the children of those blended families?
Rev. Dr. Derrick Spiva
Cultural Competency Trainer