Delivered at Congregational UCC in Newton, IA during the Central Association of the Iowa Conference of the United Church of Christ
Fall 2017 Meeting
October 28, 2017
©The Rev. Eileen Gebbie
Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured.
Ames UCC celebrates its 152nd anniversary in a few weeks. We are the oldest congregation in Ames but we are not the biggest nor the richest. We have an old-fashioned Congregational-style church downtown. It has a leaky roof and exceptionally narrow pews.
We have 202 members. I’m the only full time staff person. We are overwhelmingly white and straight. We are school teachers and medical techs; professors and corporate engineers. We are small business owners and retired farmers; food service workers and stay-at-home moms. We have a great mix of generations.
Basically what I’m saying is that if you walked in tomorrow for worship, you would not think, “Ah, this is a hotbed of heretical radicals.”
There might be a few cues that ours is a house of God that has not been frozen in the amber of time: sometimes we have a rainbow God is Still Speaking banner up. We always have one up about supporting Muslims and refugees. And I’m the third gay pastor. We also do a fair amount of public work around affordable housing, food, and refugees, and soon we will begin on accessibility of mental health care.
But, again, I don’t think many people would see us as a threat to God and civilization. Or, I didn’t think that until Wednesday morning.
ABOMINATIONS AND APOSTATES
On Wednesday morning, I learned that we are apostates, Satanists, a “pedophile filthfest.” We are the church from Revelation that portends the end of the world. We are not Biblical.
And it is all my fault. Well, partly.
It is the church’s fault for letting a woman be a pastor in the first place, given how easily we are swayed by Satan. And I clearly must be under the sway of evil: a woman who dares teach men, who has tattoos, who is married to another woman in the eyes of the nation, and God, thanks to Community UCC in Champaign, IL.
There are legions of prayer warriors now praying for my soul—both its damnation and its salvation—so that I do not corrupt any more innocent and apparently simple-minded people like those in Ames.