I am a Methodist. Raised in a Methodist church till my family left over some issues associated with the busing students in the 70s. In the 90s when I came out and my wife and I divorced I encountered lots of “love the sinner hate the sin” rhetoric from a Methodist church here in Tulsa. Was even told I could not take communion until I repented. Four years ago I returned to the Methodist Church after having attending several other welcoming churches from other denominations.
I joined Boston Avenue Methodist Church because Dr. Biggs had allowed me to attend Christmas eve services with my children and participate in communion. Dr. Crowell and Rev Paul Staat were so involved in reaching out to the gay community. So for the past 4 years I have attended a Methodist Church most every Sunday unless I was speaking or traveling. The recent steps to defrock the Methodist minister who performed his gay sons wedding was almost more than I could stand for. And this week with the Federal Judge’s ruling on Oklahoma’s ban on gay marriage, I thought I really need to be in a Church that values loving committed relationships and affirms the blessing of same sex marriages. I have struggled and wondered if I was setting the right example for my LGBTQ community.
This morning I went ahead and attended the 8:30 service at Boston Avenue hoping for a sign that God was leading my life and I was to remain in the Methodist Church. Church was church, no voices from heaven saying “stay put”. In fact, not one single person even spoke to me, but pretty much left me alone to worship. I left after the service ended and even sat in the parking lot and reflected on if it was time to move on to a more welcoming denomination. I came over to the equality center to do some work while it was quite before the staff arrive at noon. I got our Tulsa World out of the mailbox and brought it inside. Tossed it aside, and sat down at my desk and even googled some other local congregations to see if I might want to start my church shopping sooner rather than later.
Then I felt this overwhelming sense that I needed to read the newspaper. So I took it out of the yellow plastic bag, and began to separate the sections and sat down to read. I was reading the story about Sen. Coburn retiring and flipped to page A8 to finish the story. Then God spoke…..and down in the right hand corner was a quarter page ad with these words “we celebrate with the LGBTQ community the decision by Judge Kern”. I had my sign. For now I will stay because God has spoken……and I was really wanting an answer. Your courage and solidarity with the people I serve everyday was “good news”.
Toby Jenkins

Oklahomans for Equality