The Congregation Burst Into Thunderous Applause
By Rev. Sara Lamar-Sterling
One of the most powerful moments in ministry is standing with a loving couple, shepherding them through their vows to love and to cherish, for better or for worse. It is such a bold, intimate, vulnerable yet public proclamation.
On October 6, 2012, I shared in the joyful privilege of uniting two dear friends, Dorothee Benz and Carol Scott, in marriage. Theirs was one of those weddings that’s really all joy and so little work. I offer couples the opportunity to be as creative and engaged with the ceremony details as they’d like to be. Benz and Carol enjoyed planning their ceremony. They did it all with grace and cheer, nothing like reality show Bridezillas, and even chose to recite their declaration of intent and their vows from memory. They did not forget any of their lines on that important day, a feat few couples accomplish. Their love, grace, and kindness towards one another and others are ever present, and they came to the rite of marriage already understanding that they are part of a community and that their marriage helps to build up and strengthen community. When I think of what is best about Christian marriages, it’s couples like Benz and Carol that come to mind.
But it took eight years for them to get to the altar. It was eight years since Carol had first proposed to Benz, eight years during which we fought for legal marriage in New York State and Connecticut and then we fought to make marriage possible in the UMC through We do! Methodists Living Marriage Equality. This made it all the more special to stand with them in the sanctuary of Asbury UMC that day last October as they exchanged vows and rings. More than one guest said it was the most moving wedding they had ever been to. When I pronounced the couple married, the congregation burst into thunderous applause. There was so much joy and celebration in that sanctuary as I watched this happy couple walk down the aisle together into a new life and a future filled with hope, peace, and equality. May God continue to bless them and the love they have for each other.
No matter the threats of trials and expulsion, there are United Methodist clergy who refuse to discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, and we will continue to marry loving couples regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Sara Lamar-Sterling is an elder in the New York Annual Conference serving in extension ministry as a hospital chaplain.
We Did is a project of Methodists in New Directions (MIND) dedicated to making visible our ministries to LGBTQ people and encouraging others in the UMC to transcend the institutional requirement to discriminate and make their ministries visible, too. It is part of the Biblical Obedience movement sweeping across the United Methodist Church. You can read all the We Did stories here. We invite you to submit your own story to We Did.