Several people have asked how I feel about being “at variance.” I think that having the note on my Ministerial Leadership Information form is a reasonable consequence of the choice I made. And for some of the people in Western District Conference, all they wanted was for me to have some sort of consequence for going against the membership guidelines.
Trust me, there have been plenty of consequences. But if this final (?), formal consequence makes people feel better, I am glad for that. I think that the note is a means of clear communication within a denomination that increasingly has different standards of ordination from conference to conference.
So how do I feel about being labeled “at variance”?
As an Anabaptist Christian, I can’t imagine being faithful without being at variance with some of the dominant cultural norms–be they norms in the secular world or norms within the institutional church. If Jesus had had an MLI, I’m sure it would have said “at variance.”
My spiritual director reminded me that, throughout history, it has never been the case that those in power changed the rules before the rules were broken. It is always the case that a faithful minority chooses to be at variance with the established rules and then the rules change. Slavery, conscientious objection to war, racial segregation, women’s rights . . . Lots of rules were broken–outside and inside the church–before the rules changed.
So I’m glad to be at variance with a policy of the church that I find to be unfaithful and discriminatory. And I am glad to have such variance noted on my MLI. The note is an acknowledgment of where our church policy is and a reminder of the work still ahead.