Thu May 2-When Doing No Is Harm Difficult

1 Peter 3:13-17 (CEB)

13 Who will harm you if you are zealous for good? 14 But happy are you, even if you suffer because of righteousness! Don’t be terrified or upset by them. 15 Instead, regard Christ the Lord as holy in your hearts. Whenever anyone asks you to speak of your hope, be ready to defend it. 16 Yet do this with respectful humility, maintaining a good conscience. Act in this way so that those who malign your good lifestyle in Christ may be ashamed when they slander you. 17 It is better to suffer for doing good (if this could possibly be God’s will) than for doing evil.


Before I left the UMC church I had attended for about 30 years, I met with both of the pastors together to discuss my thoughts about where I felt our church was heading and why I felt I could no longer be a part of it. They, of course, disagreed with my thoughts that we were becoming less welcoming, especially to our LGBTQ+ neighbors. We have a college that is part of the PA state system a block away from our church, and at one time there was a thriving ministry, but I know members of that community who are now in their 30’s and have not felt comfortable coming out to members of the church. As I discussed my feelings, one of the things that I felt very strongly about was my witness to the community as I walked in the doors of a church that was taking a stand against being totally inclusive. I felt I was defending my hope and was able to do so with a good conscience as our scripture points out. That church has since disaffiliated (left the United Methodist Church).

As you can imagine, after being a part of that community for so long, it was very difficult. I was a leader – I had been church council chair, had served on many committees, went to Sunday School, was a leader of Stephen Ministry, had gone on numerous mission trips, my children grew up in that church, and my daughter was married there. As you also can imagine, many people gave me varying opinions and treatments toward me when I left. Some were supportive, some were downright mean. Did that bother me? Was my choice difficult? Yes, but I think the mean-spiritedness made it easier for me to be away from that environment that I was already feeling was not welcoming to others – it seemed like a self-fulfilling prophesy. Was I respectful and gracious when I left? Initially because I had planned and practiced, I felt like I was. Am I always now when I think/talk about that church? The answer is no. It is hard to check myself at times, but with prayer, it continues to get easier.

Did God guide me through that difficult time? Of course! I did some searching for other churches in the area, but none seemed to fit so becoming a part of MUMC has really helped me to continue my faith journey. Do I wish I were able to attend in person? That would be great, but I feel a connection, and I appreciate the path that MUMC has taken to be a Reconciling Congregation in light of my friends’ experiences in other congregations. I also appreciate the opportunity to connect to you with my devotion writing.

Janet Waryck

For Pondering & Prayer

What have you stood strong for that was hard for you? Did you feel the presence of God when you did it even though it may have been scary?

Prayer: God of strength, please give us that strength to do the right thing for you and to know you will be there to carry us through. Amen.

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