Ordinary Time 2017
First United Methodist Church of Germantown, Pennsylvania has a difficult website to find, but don't worry, I tracked it down. This congregation of Fumcog (FOOM-cog) has the singular distinction of being known as The Congregation, the title of a PBS documentary that aired earlier tonight.
The documentary is notable for recording two very different kinds of church strife: the mundane stress caused by pastoral transition and the sexier conflict caused by ordained homosexuals in the Methodist church.
During the course of the film, Associate Pastor Beth Stroud decides come out as a lesbian to her congregation in a sermon in Eastertide. The lectionary texts for the 2nd Sunday of Easter, Year C, include the story from John's gospel about Jesus appearing in the midst of a locked room where the disciples are hiding. In her sermon, she relates this text to her own faith and her own experiences with Jesus.
The filmmakers wisely include Beth Stroud's preparation for this sermon, and her delivery of it from the pulpit. This makes for a wonderful record of a dramatic turning point both in the life of the congregation and Beth Stroud's professional/spiritual life.
Being a church snob, the film left me wanting more; I wanted to read the entire sermon.
The Fumcog website is difficult to track down since the Google search results are flooded with sites about the documentary, Beth's trial, or both. Once I found the site, however, I was disappointed by a very glaring error on the sermons page: the sermon for the Second Sunday of Easter, Year C (April 18, 2004) isn't there.
The documentary also makes a critical omission. The Assistant Director of Music and Organist at Fumcog is Dr. Kim Beamon. He seems to do good work, which is no surprise given that he went to Oberlin.
Update, 30 December 2004: I have found the sermon in an annotated version (and the original in PDF format). It was given April 27, 2003 not in 2004. The Gospel reading for the Second Sunday of Easter is the same in all three lectionary years. For me, this still doesn't resolve why the April 18, 2004 sermon (not to mention the sermon of several other Sundays) is absent from the Fumcog sermons page.
Tangent: The Oberlin connections to The Congregation don't end with Dr. Beamon. Beth Stroud's partner Chris runs Ready Set Go! consulting which has crafted a webpage for Ellen Stroud an Assistant Professor of History at Oberlin.
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