|Posted by East Ohio MFSA on March 28, 2011 at 10:30 AM|
Hello, my name is Bill Watts! I recently retired after 42 years with Goodyear. My wife Joy and I
have three children and five grandchildren. I have been a Methodist for my whole life and have
chaired almost every local UMC committee – many years with respect to church finances. I have always been a social justice person in a supportive role but an event in my life has made me question my involvement level!
Even though I’m an optimist by nature, I was scared to death for my daughter Andrea twice in her life. Once when she had spinal meningitis. Once, she came out to us. The illness was cured by good medicine, doctors in white lab coats, and a smothering of parental love and prayers. But when we faced homosexuality where was the good theology? Where were the spiritual leaders?
At first, I told her it was a sin; she remembers how those words felt. But I took them back. I was her papa. I had driven her to Sunday School and church, youth group, conference council of youth ministries, Lakeside Institute, and I had faithfully kept stats and cheered her on (GO, Andrea!) in a zillion track and cross country meets! She won almost every award her high school had to offer. I knew she was a GOOD girl. I knew she did not choose evil. My love as a father defeated the bad theology
I grew up with. I left it to Joy to read theology and look for support—and she did (We’ve got the
library to prove it!)—I was just always there for my sweetie. I did fear for her though. What would
people think of her? Would she be safe? Someone told us, gay guys are beaten up. Lesbians are
raped. Why would we tell anyone? In college she had a sign taped to her wall which read, DON’T
LET THE PEOPLE WHO DWELL IN FEAR AND HATE GOVERN HOW YOU LIVE. She was
braver than we were. We began to realize silence was not love.
We have trouble worshipping in many church services because the silence on this issue and social
justice issues in general makes our minds scream the word hypocrite and puts up this huge block.
(We understand why people join the UCC—where many of our best Methodists are!) If it weren’t
for Methodist Federation for Social Action, Reconciling Ministries and congregations that welcome
generously and equally, we couldn’t continue to be United Methodists. In those congregations, it’s
like being able to breathe, and pray and feel God’s goodness again.
And now that I have retired, I have decided it is time to become more passionate about social justice
issues. I have become very active in East Ohio MFSA and RMN activities and leadership roles.
I encourage you to become more involved in changing the Church – “what does the Lord require of
you - but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” – Micah 6:8.