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  • Writer's pictureStoried Church

writer: Shelley Willis Queen (wife, mother, foster mother, friend, employee – in other words, a human being, just like everyone else.)

Many years ago I was an involved, happy member of an independent, fundamental Baptist church. My family and I were there every Sunday morning and night. We went out on visitation, served in Sunday school,  and the choir. We ran a bus route to bring children to church in hopes of demonstrating the love of Christ to them and bring them to the knowledge of salvation through Christ. We even went out Soul winning and assisted in the Reformers Unanimous program where we helped the homeless and addicts. We loved our church, our pastor, and our church friends. 

Then a change came. 

As happy as I seemed, I was putting on a false face. I was sincere in my service to Christ, but I was in an abusive marriage. I talked to my pastor seeking guidance and was told that biblically I had to follow my husband and submit to him. 

Wrong answer!

When I told the pastor that I had asked for a divorce, I was told that I needed to step down from all of the areas I served in. I was shocked and heart broken. Needless to say, I left that church. 

Years went by before I attempted entering the doors of another church building. I finally found one that I could serve in - infant childcare, the prayer team - and worship with people I thought loved me for me. When I was “outed,” that all came to an end too. Once again, the church family I had come to trust betrayed me. Knowing that Christ still loved me regardless of who I am, my sexual orientation, my family dynamics, or anything else, separation from that church was a little easier but still painful. 

The Bible says that Christ came to save ALL. It doesn’t say only the straight, Anglo Saxon, Hebrew, Roman, Israelite, etc. It says ALL. 

Looking forward to the promises of Storied Church, I find comfort in knowing there is a group of individuals who have already welcomed me into their arms and hearts. I am so looking forward to having a place of worship (a building with people - my actual place of workshop is within myself and my heart) where my family and I can begin our service again. I hope and pray that it will be a place of warmth, caring, loving people; a place for ALL to worship and serve together; a place of solace; a place peace.

This is my story.

With love and admiration,

  • Writer's pictureStoried Church

By now many of our Christmas trees have been put in the attic or thrown to the curb. Our neatly placed manger scenes are now stored nicely ready to be displayed later this year. And as we enter into 2020 we are confronted yet again with the reality of our state of affairs, upheaval in the Middle East, a soon to be impeachment trial, and for those a part of the United Methodist Church a possible split over issues concerning human sexuality.

In our present current affairs right now is an assassination of a senior Iranian military official. In response to the disturbance this is causing in the Middle East the US is sending 3,000 troops to stabilize the region. People are calling for the US Nation to be unified and to pray for our troops in lieu of a possible war with Iran.

What do we mean when we say we should unify? Does that mean we shouldn't have dissenting opinions? Can a Christ-following person endorse or ever give praise for any act of violence regardless of their country? And does this make us unpatriotic when we have these questions? What I think we mean when we say unity is uniformity. Dissenting opinions need to fall in line, which isn't unity. Unity leaves space for a variety of ideas and opinions to exist in tension.

Our conviction as a congregation is that Jesus was a person of peace. He demonstrated this with his life. Showing us that at the end of the day violence leads to well more violence. The willingness to demonstrate restraint and to be diplomatic is considered to many a point of weakness but for us, a spiritual strength called meekness. To love our enemies isn’t just a call for our individual lives but one that the state should take notice of.

In our prayers we ask God to be on our side and for God to be with us. Something about this is troubling and a notion that Jesus challenged often. We pray to Jesus as if Jesus was a United States citizen or a Republican or a Democrat.

The Jesus story has more in common with that of refugees, immigrants, those experiencing poverty and especially those occupied by foreign powers like the United States in their own homeland.

It is uncomfortable for us as a church to just pray for our troops. It lacks the full view of God and seems to demonstrate that God cares more about our nation and not other nations. Jesus calls us to also pray for those who we consider our enemies. Maybe the reality is that Jesus is trying to teach us a second way. Possibly showing us that when praying for our enemies we actually start to dignify them and to feel some sort of compassion. We then begin to see the mothers who clutch onto their dead babies that were killed by United States bombs.

The argument over how a state uses violence to achieve peace is not an indictment on those who serve or a lack of appreciation. My father served in Iraq in the early 2000s and I remember good Christian folk debating the legitimacy of the war in Iraq. It was no doubt difficult to hear those conversations when my father was actually engaged in those conflicts. But nonetheless, as I look back it is important and vital that the church has a deep, scriptural understanding and struggle of how our views are shaped of current affairs.

We feel that it is also our Christian duty to denounce violence in whatever way it presents itself. Too often we confuse our allegiance to Christ as the same as the state. But it isn’t. We are not trying to create disunity but I feel that when Christians detest violence… they shouldn’t be silenced. Or accused of causing disunity or unpatriotic.

We want to be a church that is open and honest about their views and to also have the courage to live out our convictions. This isn't to say that there isn't room for many conversations. Because there is. If there is anything our society needs more is thoughtful dialogue when we disagree about issues. What we hope to offer to this conversation is a second way. Jesus would often say, "You have heard it said... but I say to you..." Offering a new way for us to live and understand our world.

Advent is a beautiful season that teaches something wonderful about our God. The in-breaking of the God of peace in a world that uses violence as a means to achieve so-called peace. And that God is not just with us. But God is with us. The United States, Iraqis, Iranians, etc,.

And that maybe God is ready for us to finally figure this out.

I am excited to serve a church that aligns with these values in the United Methodist Social Principles. We believe war is incompatible with the teachings and example of Christ. We therefore reject war as an instrument of national foreign policy. We oppose unilateral first/preemptive strike actions and strategies on the part of any government. As disciples of Christ, we are called to love our enemies, seek justice, and serve as reconcilers of conflict. We insist that the first moral duty of all nations is to work together to resolve by peaceful means every dispute that arises between or among them. We advocate the extension and strengthening of international treaties and institutions that provide a framework within the rule of law for responding to aggression, terrorism, and genocide. We believe that human values must outweigh military claims as governments determine their priorities; that the militarization of society must be challenged and stopped; that the manufacture, sale, and deployment of armaments must be reduced and controlled; and that the production, possession, or use of nuclear weapons be condemned. Consequently, we endorse general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control. *

  • Writer's pictureStoried Church

One of the trending memes on social media is a picture of something crazy (a dumpster fire, a man driving a car out of control, a woman with her hair messed up like she was attacked by a rabid raccoon) with the caption “2019 is almost over and all I gotta say is what the hell was that?!” If it is hard to imagine the meme, I created one for our purposes…and feel free to use it:

If you say heck, hell, or fudge, I can relate to you. Switching careers was easy and difficult. I continued my journey from youth pastor to teaching math. While I realized there were similarities, I was faced with new challenges. The hardest challenge was losing my dad in May. He was my best friend and moral compass. I realized too late that there was still so much that I needed to learn from my dad. The pain and heartache took me down a difficult road that mentally and emotionally I am still climbing out of. Even as I sit here typing, my eyes well up with tears and the lump comes back to my throat.

The most recent challenge has been becoming who God needs me to be in this moment. I look around, and while we see more people standing up for our LGBTQIA+ friends as well as our friends of different races and ethnicity, I cannot help but feel there is amiss. This year, I stepped up as an ally for our LGBTQIA+ friends, sat and heard many stories from people about how the world is changing and they are afraid of the future, and faced backlash from friends and people (silent and otherwise). The loudest of these criticisms of my new stances and ponderings came with a question that still makes me laugh as well as provoked much thought,

“Do you even follow Jesus anymore?”

I sat in stunned awe of the question that was thrown to me via a Facebook message. It did not come after my posts of equality and other issues. It came after one post of the impeachment of Trump. I made no statements or stances, just reposted history. The comments came, then that message after much private debate. My faith was called into question. I was told that I was leading the youth of America in a dangerous direction and this person was glad I was not teaching in their area of North Carolina.

All of it hurt. A lot. I spent the next day wondering where it had all gone wrong in 2019. However, after that day, I reflected. I reflected on all of 2019, what had happened, where I was headed, and especially how God was still involved. That last step of reflection was the hardest because I had plenty of reason to deny Christ as some believed I had. However,

God has this way of taking our story, intertwining the cause of the Divine, and creating something good and holy out of the chaos of 2019.

I have known about this song for a long time now, but it hit me harder this year with some of the triumphs and struggles of 2019. The band Rend Collective just has great music overall. Their song “For All That You Have Done” is a hymn of the Divine being present in all things no matter the situation.

I will close out the post with some of their words as a prayer for you to let go of whatever it is you need to leave behind in 2019 and an acknowledgment that the Divine is already walking beside us and ahead of us into 2020:

From mountain top to valley low Through laughter and through tears Surely the goodness of my God Will follow all the years

You know our failures and regrets You always led us home Redemption's arm has raised us up Our triumph in the storm

For all that You have done for us For every battle won We'll raise a song to bless Your heart For all that You have done

May your 2020 be full of all the things: laughter, tears, mountains, valleys, triumph, redemption, and Divine presence. And may you find a community to share that with, maybe even ours at Storied Church.


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