My “Witness, Part 11, Closing Thoughts

A lot of other “stuff” has happened over the last 40 years. I may address some of that in more detail in a later set of posts, but the basic trajectory of my values and commitments were formed in those first 20 or so years of my life.

By May of 1980, Lynette Little had figured out I was someone she wanted to have a relationship with. I was disappointed/crushed by the results of the 1980 Presidential election (and the ones in 1984 and 1988). Lynette and I married in August of 1982 and went together to Garrett-Evangelical Seminary. My experience at G-ETS was far less “formational/transformational” than my time at Millsaps. Lynette and I were among the first wave of “clergy couples” to serve in the Mississippi Conference of the UMC. Joe Reiff is working on a book about the “Miriam Generation” of United Methodist clergywomen in the Mississippi Conference. Lynette gave him an interview in the summer of 2017 about her experiences. It’s good that got down on tape and in writing before she died in December 2017. That’s HER story. My story is the pain of watching someone you love be mistreated.

I’m aware that Bullies are very much “triggers” for me. If one has been bullied and abused, that’s going to happen. I’m also “triggered” by aggressive, intentional ignorance. Add those together and how I respond to the Current Occupant of the White House is no mystery.

I continue to be wary of the “Doctrine Police/Heresy Hunters,” some of whom have found their way to positions of influence, if not controlling power, in the United Methodist Church. I continue to navigate the space between those who may not have the same sense of racial and economic justice that I do, while trying to be a loving pastor to them. I’ve decided to hold up the ideal that Love of God and Neighbor is the mark of a follower of Jesus and model that as best I can.

I had thought if the only people who got value out of these remembrances were my son Luke and my daughter Sarah, then it was worth the time I spent. I’ve been gratified that a few others have found them valuable too.

One of the maintenance staff at G-ETS once drew a contrast between herself and her son. “I’m a lover, not a fighter.” I get frustrated and angry sometimes, especially over the last three and a half years, but my basic stance is toward being a lover, rather than a fighter. I am, in that way, very much Barbara Ann Hamilton Altman Edwards’ son.

About jaltman81

United Methodist Clergy
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