Ignore the Anonymous Eighty.

2014.06.04 Ignore the Anonymous Eighty
“More than eighty pastors and theologians” do not deserve my attention.
That’s whom has allegedly signed to / crafted / believe in a press release calling for an “amicable separation” within the United Methodist Church over differences of understanding human sexuality. You’ll note I didn’t link to the press release and soon you’ll realize why.
I don’t know if “signed” is the right word because the official press release has no signatures I can see. I don’t know if “crafted” is the right word because I don’t know who wrote it. And I don’t know if “believe in” is the right term because I don’t know who actually believes in it. All of that’s because I have to use the word “allegedly.” I have to use that word because the press release is anonymous.
There are a small handful of names attached to an accompanying statement. But not the one that’s getting attention, that’s not the primary press release, that’s not the one with “more than eighty” people backing it.
You can do what you want. But here’s what I’m going to do and you might choose to follow suit. I’m going to do what I do with all anonymous sources / advice / feedback: I ignore it.
Anonymity is the specter of fear and it has precisely the amount of power we give it.
If this group thinks the future of the denomination hinges upon this issue, if this group thinks “more than eighty” is a noteworthy number, if this group thinks there is truly a “crisis” that needs to be addressed, then this group needs to please let me know who is addressing me and who I can address in return. They need to step out, all “more than eighty” of them and tell me who they are. What are your names? Are you willing to back this press release publicly? Or is something holding you back and I’m not understanding what it is? Can you help me understand? Right now I really don’t understand. All I’m left with are questions:
How am I able to enter dialogue with you? How am I able to listen to you? How am I able to share with you? How am I able to conference with you? How am I able to feel safe with you?
“More than eighty” tells me I can’t enter dialogue with them, that I can’t listen beyond the press release, that I don’t know who to talk to with my thoughts, that I can’t sit down over coffee with someone, and that I can’t be in conversation without being afraid.
I want no part of that.
If this group of “more than eighty” wants to sign their names, they also want me to engage with them and they want to engage with me. If not, then I choose not to engage it. I encourage you to do the same. Please stop talking about it. Giving anonymous power is letting fear rule you instead of God. I don’t want any part of that.
Pastor Nate Melcher
P.S. I will proudly put up a link to this press release once the “more than eighty” names are released.

3 thoughts on “Ignore the Anonymous Eighty.”

  1. I am in full agreement with you. We had a policy at one church: Anonymous letters are filed in the circular file under the desk. In seasons of change when we saw more than the normal amount of anonymous feedback, we would print something in our bulletin and newsletter reminding people that in order to love each other and walk together in times of transition and/or disagreement, we must be willing to sit face to face.
    I know people sometimes just need to grumble and not have it become a big deal – I need that sometimes. I do that grumbling with one other trusted person in a quiet space and do not bring it forward to the community. Large scale communal discourse needs to happen face to face, eye to eye. It helps all of us remember that on the other side of an issue are real people. It also, as you mention in your post, helps us hear one another, ask questions, better understand what is being said. And, of course, it tests the strength of our convictions.
    We made a rule at one of my churches: nobody speaks for anyone else. We do not allow statements in our meetings that begin with “People are talking…” “Lots of other people feel this way…” This simple rule has brought our discourse to a more productive and more Christian place.
    Thanks for sharing, Nathan.


Leave a Comment