Linda Ray – #TiredofHate

The seventies were sweet.  My life as a follower of Jesus began.  I was thrilled about the awesome love message that permeated my buddies and me.  We were naive young adults who embraced a simple yet radical truth.

A couple of years later I, along with three others, were youth ministers in a three thousand member church.  Our “boss” was chronically unkind and never smiled.  Rebelling against his rules and regulations, I left town and worked in a country club.

Ten years later, I witnessed bullying and exclusion targeting the young innocent one I had birthed a few years earlier.  Five years passed in another town and ostracism reigned again in a place that should have been a safe haven.

For the past forty-eight years, attending churches in different cities, I’ve been captivated by two venues.  One was helping my sister and brother-in-law at their hispanic ministries, although I don’t have a command of Spanish.  Now located five hours away, friends there are treasured forever.  Also, teaching youth in a community filled only with people of color was wonderful and raw.  Loud cursing and drunkenness prevailed at times.  However, I was alive and joyful in my spirit and at home in an environment were residents were only being authentic.  Despite knowing that someone had tried to burn down our trailer and that shootings occurred there, I still flourished in a neighborhood devoid of pretenses and judgmentalism.

However, the last church we frequented ten years ago, before moving to this area, was emotionally challenging for me.  Once I was told there that they,  “members”, liked me but they loved my husband. OUCH! I was kept at arm’s length.

When my spouse almost died two years ago, I was isolated and scared.  Needing to make a change led me to Saint Elmo U.M.C. , a new denomination for me.  Much older now, I am still the same young woman who craves unconditional love for everyone.  Knowing that I don’t have to keep an eye out for bullying is a relief and delight.  Saint Elmo U.M.C. is a church filled with peace, love, hope, and creativity!


~ Linda Ray