Dear friends at St. Stephen’s UMC!
I was so moved by the outpouring of love, compassion and call for justice that took place last Saturday night at the vigil for Nex Benedict from not only our church but from the entire Norman community. I church was very well represented at the vigil and our heart goes out to Nex’s family. Let us continue to pray for their family and for all within the LGBTQIA community who continue to suffer from the tragic results of hateful rhetoric that spews from the mouths of many of our local, state and national leaders. On Sunday as I preached on the importance of repentance in the Lenten season, I found my own words convicting me for my failure at times to do more in the wake of social injustice. All of us at times I suppose fall short of doing less than we are capable of doing. Caught up in our own activities and experiences we end up giving glib lip service to incidences of social injustice. But I want to challenge us to not let Nex’s death fall by the wayside or turn into idle chat. This is the season of Lent and it is a time of transformation both individual and communal and we as United Methodists have a great deal to repent for, our silence in the wake of social injustice against the LGBTQIA community has resulted in our complicity in their oppression. It is time for us as a church and as a denomination to not only repent but to lead in the transformation of society and culture. I want us to keep Nex’s death and this conversation alive within our church and beyond, and I want to invite all of you to be a part of that ongoing conversation. I do not know what that conversation will look like yet but I want to solicit your input. As I said in Sunday’s sermon let our work to attain justice for Nex begin not end! Please feel free to contact me and to keep this conversation going about what our next steps as a church should be!