My Church..

The reason I love my church is everyone wel-comed me and Samantha with open arms. Showed us what a family is all about. Even though we are not there we are in spirit. My love and prayers are with all of you.

Sincerely Samantha and Lisa B.

 


 

 

Why this is my Church...

I have been a United Methodist since I was about four years old. Around then, a neighbor invited my parents to come to church at Rainier United Methodist Church, and we started attending regularly. I still have a nice memory of taking my dress shoes off in church so that I could stand on the pew next to my mom or dad when we sang hymns (this put me at just the right height to look at the hymnal and have one of my parents' arms around me). I grew up there, at UMC Camps, conference youth events, district training events, and lay speaking classes. I did confirmation with the Clatskanie Methodist youth group, and as I learned more about what it meant to be a Methodist, I knew that it was a church where I fit. I like it that we read the bible for ourselves, talk to God ourselves, ask questions, and “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Open communion seems to go along with this for me. I also like the emphasis on serving the community and the needy,  and having a plain but serviceable church so that more funds can go to help people who need it. Sadly though, Rainier UMC never had very many people my age. The few that there were (including me) started getting distracted from church in high-school and even took some breaks from attending during college. I came back after college though, took church building classes, and even wondered if God might be calling me to the ministry.

During those years, the Methodist Church as a whole was confronting the LGBTQ issue. I remember how disappointed Rainier's Lay Leader, Steve Frantz was at the outcome of talks on this issue at a General Conference. Rainier UMC did a study on Homosexuality And The Church, but they never could get enough people to support becoming a Reconciling Congregation. Also at this time, I was beginning to realize how important the welcoming of the LGBTQ community is to me personally. It had always been important to me, but as I got older, interacted with more people, and went to college, I realized that having a church home that fully welcomes you was very special and that no one (queer or otherwise) should miss out on that. So, I was very disappointed when General Conference 2012 finished, and the church as a whole could not even agree to admit that there was any disagreement on the issue. I began to wonder if perhaps I had been wrong about the United Methodist Church being where I belonged. How could I attend and give my gifts of time, money and love to an organization that did not officially believe the way I did? Every time I came through the door or put money in the offering, wouldn't I be saying I agreed? I took another break from church. 

One Saturday night, I decided I was going to go to church in the morning. I remembered reading an article in the paper about the minister at Longview UMC marrying a same-sex couple, so I looked up the church's website. When I got there the next morning, I saw an Obama bumper sticker in the parking lot, and in the sanctuary, I noticed that there were a few people around my age. There were even a few babies and kids. The music was emotionally effecting to me, and they even had a drum set! I felt as if I'd come to a place where people were growing, changing and thriving. There were a lot of jeans, sneakers and casual shirts...even on the pastor! I saw a same-sex couple lean their heads together to talk in a quietly close way, and someone had an espresso cup under their pew. I felt like I might be home.

That day, and the Sundays that followed, people always made me feel welcome. They would ask my name, and remember it, or, cheerfully ask again, and invite me to do the same. They seemed happy to have me there. People invited me to upcoming events but didn't nag or swarm. The music continues to be great. I love pastor Rene's informal preaching style; it's so neat that he truly invites people to raise their hands and speak or ask questions. I enjoy the Powerpoint pictures and graphs, and I like it that he usually finds a way to relate things to real life. I loved the day he said: “How would you feel if Jesus were going to spend the day with you?”

As for the LGBTQ and UMC issue, attending a reconciling church is the solution for me. I am proud that this congregation decided to follow this path 10 whole years ago, and I pray that the whole UMC will someday join them. Politics aside though, this is a place where I can love and be loved, learn, ask, worship, pray, work and grow with others. And I was right, I do feel at home.

    By Kebby J. -


Why I Love This Church

My husband Floyd and I were married in the Hillsboro, Oregon Methodist Church in 1948. He traveled a lot with his employment, so when we got to Longview I started coming to Longview UMC, about 1959.

My two boys were little guys and we were greeted with open arms.

The fellowship hall was the sanctuary at that time and Rev. Edward Knight was the pastor.

I was not involved the “workings” of the church at first. Being a young mother, I ran out of the much needed thing called “time”. I did help with Sunday school and vacation Bible school, which was a fun time.

About 1970 we built a new home in Kalama and I transferred to the Kalama Methodist Church. I stayed there until I lost my husband in 1978. After I lost Floyd I moved back “home” and have been here ever since.

The new sanctuary was built while I was in Kalama (1967-69) and Rev. David Knighton was pas-tor when I returned from Kalama about 1993.

Both my boys went into the military, Dennis to Marines and Gary to Army, so this church and congregation have been my family for approximately 21 years.

I have been involved in nearly every committee/team that this church has ever had: Financial Secretary, Worship, Trustees, SPRC, Lay Leadership, United Methodist Women (President for 8 years and Treasurer forever). I am very proud of the UMW as we have been very successful in our find raisers and able to help LUMC at times when special funds are needed.

In 2002-32 when Rev. Carlyle Martin led us into a discussion about becoming a Reconciling Church I could not have been happier. Then when we actually made the move, what a time that was! I have a gay nephew and many gay friends who need a welcoming safe church home.

I remember many of the beautiful and decorative dinners of past years here, when the fellowship hall was filled to overflowing. Good food, entertainment and fellowship! Everyone pitched in and fun was had by all.

The past couple of years have been a real stressful time for me and it has been a time that has really made me realize what we all have here with our LUMC church family cannot be found eve-rywhere. I personally could not “have made it” without the faith, love and support of “MY CHURCH FAMILY”. I LOVE MY CHURCH!!! GOD BLESS YOU ALL!!!

by Mona P. -


Or...Why I Love This Church

My family has been members of Longview United Methodist Church for over a year now and I am so happy to call the members of this church my friends.

2012 was a horrible year for my family. We ended up homeless and living in the Community House. We had no money and no friends in this town. We were told that LUMC could help with a gas voucher. The first time we came to church we were not looking for a church home. We were solely trying to make it through one more week. Pastor Rene welcomed us with open arms. He didn’t judge us because of how we looked or the fact that we were asking for help from complete strangers. He invited us to stay for the service so we took him up on the offer. During the service there is always a moment to meet with someone you don’t know. We didn’t expect anyone to take notice of us. Why would they? We sat in the last pew. We had never talked to anyone there before and we certainly weren’t dressed for church. People actually came up to us regardless and welcomed us with hugs.

Once the service continued I looked around and noticed the rainbow streamers on the wall be-hind the cross. I have been to churches before and one thing I was sure of was church and PFLAG do not go hand in hand. I must admit that I was very curious about why the rainbow ribbon was in the church. I don’t think I really paid too much attention to what the sermon was actually about. I was just trying to take in how kind everyone was, the fact that no one cared that we showed up in jeans, no one judged us on the fact that we needed help. What I do re-member most clearly from our first visit was Communion. We were invited to stand and as I walked down the aisle I was filled with such a sense of peace. All I could think of was how beautiful the church looked and how wonderful it felt to walk toward that cross.

I remember thinking that this was a truly amazing place and that I NEEDED TO GET MARRIED RIGHT HERE! Marriage was always something we had talked about, but we didn’t really want to just go to a court house. We wanted it to be a special day. When we lived at Community House since we were not married at the time that meant that my husband stayed on a separate floor than our son and myself. Every day it was heart breaking to not be able to be together. We decided we would ask Pastor Rene if he would marry us the following Sunday. We had no plan, we had nothing special to wear, we just needed the marriage certificate and witnesses so we could share a room.

We didn’t think it was going to be anything special. Why would it be – we had only come to this church one time before. What we didn’t know was that at the weekly meeting they made plans to make it special and memorable for us. We were given gifts. Everyone knows the saying, “something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue. In keeping with the saying I was given a piece of petrified wood, a silver cross necklace, a copy of a favorite book and a wand made of dried lavender tied together with a lovely blue ribbon. I cried when I opened the presents. I can’t even begin to describe how special those gifts were to me. Our wedding was beautiful. Several of the kids were given bubbles and as we walked down the aisle the bubbles reflected the light and made everything look glossy for the few seconds before they burst. To-day I can look back on our wedding and say that it was perfectly magical. It sounds so simple to everyone else but to us we knew we had found our church home.

Since we joined the church so many things have happened. We have laughed together. We have cried. We have watched our friends expand their families. We were blessed with a beautiful baby girl and once again our church family came together and threw us a wonderful baby shower. LUMC has been there for us more times than I can count. When I was pregnant with my daughter I had several people tell me they wanted to be honorary grandparents to our kids. This meant the world to me because my own grandparents want nothing to do with me or my family. To know that there are people that love us enough to want to be a part of our lives is so special.

Our car broke down a few weeks ago and we didn’t think we would be making it to church for a while. Once again the church has gone above and beyond for us. Calls were made and people volunteered to come get us. Since we are a family of 4 with 2 car seats most people simply don’t have enough room to fit us all. The first Sunday Rich was able to take us all. The next Sunday Mary and Delorse came to pick us up. Three different people have taken time out of their day to make sure we got safely to and from church.

To me this church is more than just a random group of people we happen to co-exist with once a week. They are some of the best friends I have been lucky enough to know.

What does this church mean to me? It’s more than just free child care for a few hours. It’s having two of the loveliest caring kind ladies take part in our son’s life. He loves them and can’t wait to see Cait and Mary every Sunday. It’s more than just a place to gather. It is a place to make friends, share lives, be there for EVERYONE, no matter what is going on in their life. When we say everyone is welcome, we truly mean everyone is welcome. Come as you are and we will accept you for exactly how you are, not what we think you should be. We welcome diversity. The first time I heard that I didn’t know exactly what that meant, but since I have been a member of this church family I have never seen anyone be turned away. I have never seen anyone be judged because they couldn’t afford food. What I have seen is “tide me over” bags put out weekly. I have seen the Angel fund help those in need pay power, water and rent bills. I have seen people come together whenever anyone is in need , be it a shoulder to cry on, a visit in the hospital if someone is sick or a ride to church when you are in need.

This church is family. This building is love.

Jessica P. - 


Longview United Methodist is very different from any other church I have attended in my life and that is a very good thing! I grew up attending a Con-servative Baptist Church in Idaho. I grew to know and love God because of it. There was an active youth group and one of my best friends in the group was a young man that was a few years younger than I. He was very funny and very good looking. We did a lot of things together. After attending a Bible College in Portland I met and married Ed. My friend David married a few years later. Whenever we made it back to Idaho we saw David and his wife and always said to ourselves that if we did not know better we would have sworn he was gay.

Twenty years or so later he told us he was divorced and we were sad. He continued to visit with my parents and tell them what he was doing and where he was attending church. We continued to see him off and on. Two years or so ago he called to tell us that he was gay and that he had just lost his partner. We were very sorry for him and we expressed to him that we loved him. Conservatives truly believe that they have the only truth and anyone that does not agree with them is probably going to hell. We had continued to attend mostly conservative churches throughout our married lives and had discussed off and on just not attending church at all due to our dissatisfaction with the beliefs of the church.

After David told us he was gay and we realized that he would not be welcome in any of the churches we had attended, we decided to either stop attending church or attend or attend what would be called in conservative churches, a liberal church. We were attending the church across the street and decided to see what Longview United Methodist was like. We thought we were aware of your beliefs regarding homosexuality and felt it was a better fit for what we thought of as the truth…and we were right!

We not feel very at home here and have come to love each and every one of you! Thank you for making the decision all those years ago to become a Reconciling Congregation that makes every-one feel welcome!

Beverly H -


I have searched for a church to attend for several years and have finally found the one that makes me feel welcome, accepted for who I am, and comfortable. I have experienced churches that are over formal and completely sermon based to churches that are extremely laid back and mostly worship music based.

My first time entering United Methodist Church I was greeted warmly by its members and immediately felt like I had entered my own personal sanctuary. My reason for attending was to support my sister Jenna, who was interested in coming to a church that accepted all sexual orientations. What I found was a place where I found a pastor who is able to blend music and sermon in a way that keeps me looking forward to my Sundays.

I am not a religious person but I do feel that it is good for my children to experience it and have the option to pursue it. I believe in a higher power and though I can’t say for sure what that higher power is I can say that this church has given me something else to believe in, the belief that there can be a place to take your children that is focused on giving to others and the community and the only thing they ask for in return is to attend with an open mind, an open heart, and a willingness to be accepted with open arms.

Nina H. -


Truth be told I wasn’t even remotely interested in coming to church. My mother had talked (brow beat) me into it. She said I might like it because this was a church that welcomed gay people! I of course had heard of churches like this before, so I had a great deal of trepidation about at-tending, and a whole lot of "Mmmhm I’ll believe it when I see it" running through my head on that first day. I had already dealt with a few churches who profess to be "accepting" and yet as soon as you get in the door they begin with the "Now that you are a Christian again do you really think Jesus would approve of the gay thing?"

My first clue that this church might be different was the large cross at the head of the altar cov-ered in rainbow ribbons, if the congregation was willing to make their cross a giant rainbow may-be they were more committed to welcoming gays than I had thought, and not just a gimmick to get more bodies in the pews. My second clue was the pastor, about 5’9, a round happy man with a tiny poof of blond hair on the top of his head. At the time he was wearing jeans and a T shirt which I came to learn later was his uniform of choice. Unlike most churches I had visited, his ser-mons tended to focus on God’s love and acceptance, how much he loves me how much the word of God talks of love and teaches it. What was missing was the condemnation and judgment that seem to be the earmark of most churches I have been to, this was refreshing. Coming from sev-eral years of Christian school this was a new concept for me.

The lack of condemnation and judgment in addition to the focus on the divine love forgiveness and acceptance of god is the reason I believe this congregation, as well as other reconciling min-istries practice what I believe is a purer form of Christianity than what most other churches prac-tice and teach to their believers. Pastor Rene teaches only about love, God’s love, the love that will grow within our hearts, and the love we are to share with the world. Because of Jesus’ love for us the entirety of the Torah (or the Old Testament) was reduced to two simple rules, "Love the lord with all your heart all your soul and all your strength, and love your neighbor as you self. That be the whole of the law." This and aspects of this simple philosophy is what Rene teaches.

The way other churches operate seems to be a little different, many work on levels of elitism and exclusion and this is a very dangerous belief. Exclusion is used by churches to form a sense soli-darity and cohesion by the designation of a common enemy; in the last few decades it has been members of the GLBT community. Elitism is used in a more subtle and insidious way, by one group making themselves feel closer to, or more worthy of God, the group at the other end of this comparison then feels farther from, and less worthy of God. These concepts only serve to make a small group feel good about themselves while a much larger number is made to divided from and unworthy of the love of God. By Rene teaching the exact opposite of what is conventionally believed, and opening God’s love to all, he is leading by example as to how much of a lie the status quo truly is. I seek truth in all its forms, I hate hypocrisy with a pas-sion, and these are the reasons why I love this church and its pastor so much.

Mike J. -


Why do you love this church? Everyone has their own story. Send yours to the church office: lumcoffice@cni.net

  August 2017  
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