“Queering and flourishing the phenomenal lives of self-identifying queer UMC clergy members amidst the deployment of sacred violence directed at them. ”
The calculated ascendancy and triumph of the Traditional Plan at the recent United Methodist Church Special General Conference tightened the denomination’s grip on its doctrines and policies with regards to the treatment of "self-avowed practicing homosexuals." The unanimity sought by 438 delegates meant displacing and dismembering a significant number of faithful followers of Christ whose sexuality does not fit the privileged and protected traditional heterosexual norm. Undeterred by the outright display of gender governance (Ho, 2010) or body surveillance, queer clergy members maintained their resolve to exercise their sacred call amidst these discriminatory and traumatizing practices.
The research intends to describe and represent the subjective experience and action of these duly ordained ministers of the gospel who are staying on course amidst what is tantamount to sacred violence, that is, a justification of the violence committed in the name of God (Grimsurd, 2000). To accomplish this empirical study, the project will employ the method of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) to explore in detail the “lived experience” of participants through a subjective and reflective process of conversation and interpretation around the research question.
The outcome of the research will offer the church (and beyond) a thick description and analysis of what is like for queer clergy to live out their calling within a religious canopy that discriminates on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. In a way, this is like drawing the curtain so we can take a deeper look into their subjectivity, which is often seen as a threat to the social and spiritual well-being of the denomination. It will also provide specific psychological, spiritual, and communal practices and resources that will help further their healing from intra-psychic, interpersonal, and institutional trauma and facilitate flourishing, joy, and generativity.