More

Her congregation expected a normal sermon on Sunday. But they got something even better.

Coming out isn't easy, especially when you're a pastor in the Methodist Church.

Her congregation expected a normal sermon on Sunday. But they got something even better.

When members of the Edgerton United Methodist Church in Edgerton, Kansas, filed into their pews on Jan. 3, 2016, they had no idea they were about to hear their pastor give the most controversial sermon of her life.

For 25 years, the Reverend Cynthia Meyer had held a secret she was finally ready to share: She’s gay.

“I’ve been growing in my understandings and thinking and praying about all this for some time,” Meyer told Welcometoterranova. “I’ve really felt led by the Holy Spirit and inspired to take a pretty bold step to be open about who I am in my identity and my relationship.”


Meyer's sermon was incredibly brave. After remaining silent for such a long time, she finally spoke her truth:

GIFs via Reconciling Ministries Network/YouTube.

Many LGBTQ folks know the difficulty of coming out in a non-affirming denomination, but few know whats it's like to do this as clergy and at the pulpit.

As with many traditional Christian denominations, the United Methodist Church (UMC) believes that homosexuality is “incompatible” with Christian design. In theory, the UMC welcomes LGBTQ members as participants of the church, but with restrictions. Clergy can’t perform same-sex marriages, same-sex weddings can’t be hosted in a UMC church, and pastors definitely can’t identify as LGBTQ themselves.

When Meyer stood in front of her congregation and came out, she was risking her career.

There are over 32,000 active United Methodist churches in the United States. While Meyer certainly isn’t the first to clergy to come out, as UMC clergy have been coming out for decades, she could be in a particularly precarious situation.

The risk of repercussions for her announcement could be quite high. She’ll have to go through a church trial, and she could lose her credentials completely.

Photo via Reconciling Ministries Network, used with permission.

But Meyer believes that "it’s time" for the United Methodist Church to change its anti-LGBTQ policies, which is why she came out at the pulpit specifically.

She worked with a campaign called "It’s Time," organized by Reconciling Ministries Network, an LGBTQ organization working for change in the United Methodist Church.

“It’s soul-crushing to speak to my congregation each week about God’s love for them as they are, while being unable to speak of my own God-given identity, my loving relationship, and much of my day-to-day life,” she said. “I do this not only for myself, but for my partner, for my daughter, for all those who are excluded, and for the good of the church.”

Thankfully, the response from her parishioners has been overwhelmingly positive, Meyer says.

“I’ve been a leader in the United Methodist Church for the past 25 years, but coming out to my congregation in January was the first time I have been able to publicly present my authentic self,” Meyer said. “I am overwhelmed by the outpour of love and support from many of you as I declare my truth to the world.”

Photo via Reconciling Ministries Network, used with permission.

Sharing her truth may have been the best gift Meyer could have given to her church. After coming out, she says she’s heard from seminary students, clergy, and other parishioners across the country who also participate in the church while in the closet.

Sometimes all it takes is one brave person standing up and announcing their truth to give others the strength to do the same.

Courtesy of FIELDTRIP
True

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected diverse communities due largely in part to social factors such as inadequate access to housing, income, dietary options, education and employment — all of which have been shown to affect people's physical health.

Recognizing that inequity, Harlem-based chef JJ Johnson sought out to help his community maximize its health during the pandemic — one grain at a time.

Johnson manages FIELDTRIP, a health-focused restaurant that strives to bring people together through the celebration of rice, a grain found in cuisines of countless cultures.

"It was very important for me to show the world that places like Harlem want access to more health-conscious foods," Johnson said. "The people who live in Harlem should have the option to eat fresh, locally farmed and delicious food that other communities have access to."

Lack of education and access to those healthy food options is a primary driver of why 31% of adults in Harlem are struggling with obesity — the highest rate of any neighborhood in New York City and 7% higher than the average adult obesity rate across the five boroughs.

Obesity increases risk for heart disease or diabetes, which in turn leaves Harlem's residents — who are 76% Black or LatinX — at heightened risk for complications with COVID-19.

Keep Reading Show less

When it comes to the topic of race, we all have questions. And sometimes, it honestly can be embarrassing to ask perfectly well-intentioned questions lest someone accuse you of being ignorant, or worse, racist, for simply admitting you don't know the answer.

America has a complicated history with race. For as long as we've been a country, our culture, politics and commerce have been structured in a way to deny our nation's past crimes, minimize the structural and systemic racism that still exists and make the entire discussion one that most people would rather simply not have.

For example, have you ever wondered what's really behind the term Black Pride? Is it an uplifting phrase for the Black community or a divisive term? Most people instinctively put the term "White Pride" in a negative context. Is there such a thing as non-racist, racial pride for white people? And while we're at it, what about Asian people, Native Americans, and so on?

Yes, a lot of people raise these questions with bad intent. But if you've ever genuinely wanted an answer, either for yourself or so that you best know how to handle the question when talking to someone with racist views, writer/director Michael McWhorter put together a short, simple and irrefutable video clip explaining why "White Pride" isn't a real thing, why "Black Pride" is and all the little details in between.


Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

The subject of late-term abortions has been brought up repeatedly during this election season, with President Trump making the outrageous claim that Democrats are in favor of executing babies.

This message grossly misrepresents what late-term abortion actually is, as well as what pro-choice advocates are actually "in favor of." No one is in favor of someone having a specific medical procedure—that would require being involved in someone's individual medical care—but rather they are in favor of keeping the government out of decisions about specific medical procedures.

Pete Buttigieg, who has become a media surrogate for the Biden campaign—and quite an effective one at that—addressed this issue in a Fox News town hall when he was on the campaign trail himself. When Chris Wallace asked him directly about late-term abortions, Buttigieg answered Wallace's questions is the best way possible.

"Do you believe, at any point in pregnancy, whether it's at six weeks or eight weeks or 24 weeks or whenever, that there should be any limit on a woman's right to have an abortion?" Wallace asked.

Keep Reading Show less

As the once-celebrated Information Age devolves into the hell-hole-ish Misinformation Age, many of us feel a desperate sense of despair. It's one thing to have diverse perspectives on issues; it's entirely another to have millions of people living in an alternate reality where up is down, left is right, and a global pandemic is a global hoax put on by a powerful cabal of Satanic, baby-eating, pedophile elites.

Watching a not-insignificant portion of your country fall prey to false—and sometimes flat out bonkers—narratives is disconcerting. Watching politicians and spokespeople spout those narratives on national television is downright terrifying.

Clearly, the U.S. is not the only country with politicians who pander to conspiracy theorists for their own gain, but not every country lets them get away with it. In a now-viral interview, New Zealand's Tova O'Brien spoke with one her country's fringe political party leaders and showed journalists exactly how to handle a misinformation peddler.

Her guest was Jami-Lee Ross, leader of the Advance New Zealand party, which failed to garner enough votes in the country's general election this weekend to enter parliament. The party, which got less than one percent of the vote, had spread misinformation about the coronavirus on social media, and Ross's co-leader, Billy Te Kahika, is a known conspiracy theorist.

But O'Brien came prepared to shut down that nonsense.

Keep Reading Show less