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That They All May Be...Long - A Reflection from Pastor Tameka Love



The last five years of my life have been a great leap of faith. After having my first same-sex relationship during my third year of college, around age 20, I made the decision to end that relationship and get married to the man I was seeing long distance because [I thought that] this was the right thing to do. I must go God’s way for my life. I didn’t want to disappoint God and make an “ungodly” decision to be gay. So, I did just that. I broke it off with her and continued my plans to marry him. 


Twenty-seven years later, I was at yet another crossroads, facing a choice between continuing in a relationship that was not organic to how I love or believing what God was now showing me. “You’ve always been ashamed of who you are.” I was shocked to hear these words. I couldn’t believe that what God was speaking to my heart was literally saying that all the years of my life, attempting to “be good” and “not give in to this sin” was me denying who I am, realizing that it had been me that had been ashamed and not God. My world was turned upside down in that moment. No matter how traumatizingly difficult it was, I chose faith. I chose what God was saying to me. 


I began the hard process of having this conversation with my then spouse, again, about who I am. This was no secret to him because it was important to me that he knew before we were married. We both thought, in time, things would change. It didn’t. We divorced, and I was remarried to my now-wife of five years. I left a marriage, the church I was co-pastoring, a non-affirming denomination, and all things “safe” to trust God and be me. I was 49 years old, turning 50 a few months later, and I was making the most radical decision and change of my life. My wife and I married. I started seminary, moved to Las Vegas, and we continue to build new community connections as we traverse a world of knowing God, ourselves, and others in a whole new way. I never knew God was waiting on me all this time, but what was upside down is now right side up, and I continue in God’s love and grace, daily. 


I now pastor Northwest Community Church, Las Vegas. Northwest is an affirming ministry with a mix of amazing humans whose sole purpose is to ensure that all people know that they are loved, accepted, affirmed, and adored by God who has unending love for them. At Northwest, my focus is to create a safe space where truly, as we say in the UCC, “No matter who you are, or where you are on life’s journey...you are welcome here!” At Northwest, we don’t lay claim to perfection, but we do commit to enduring even when it gets hard. I continually invite myself, and I invite each one reading this reflection, to take it one step at a time in figuring things out. But whatever you do, just keep stepping!  It’s scary to explore where God will lead you, but I guarantee, it will be to a place free to be you. It will be new life, new love, new strength, a “where’d that come from” kind of courage, and an invitation to belong. Just as you are.


I believe one of our greatest opportunities today, as the Church, is allowing ourselves to be like Jeremiah, the clay, in the hands of the potter, God, to reshape us in the ways of God’s heart for diversity, as seekers of that same desire, for seekers of this day. We can be formed in such a way that we are palatable to those who come to drink. The thirsty. Those who come to eat. The hungry. All those who are weary, and heavy laden from the rigmarole of “Church as usual.” Shelter from the abuses and refuge from the long, hard journey. A refreshing force of love, authenticity, genuineness, and a balm of healing. For those left alone without resources or recourse for healing. We can become Isaiah 58:12, bridge-builders, and path re-pavers, keeping Jesus as our model and mentor. I believe it’s important that we not be a Church of pressure, smoke and mirrors, and pomp and circumstance, but a church that allows people to come and go, how and when they need to, to “dip in the pool” of healing by being in the presence of the fellowship of the saints without agenda. Having open doors, as we read in Isaiah 60. Open literally, and open in our hearts, continually. Being healed of our own pain: emotional, mental, and spiritual wounds, and disappointments; helping us to become lovers of others because we’ve learned to love ourselves. Following the teaching of Jesus, empowering us to love courageously.


 

Pastor Tameka Love is the current lead pastor of Northwest Community Church, UCC, since September 2022. Northwest is an affirming ministry serving Las Vegas, NV for over 22 years. Pastor Love, affectionately known as Pastor T, does life with her wife and partner in Love, Aquarius. Pastor T is a mother of seven, both biological and amazingly reconstituted children. Along with her pastorate, Tameka also serves as a local Spiritual Counselor in hospice care. Tameka is seeking her second ordination within the United Church of Christ while also serving on the UCC Covenantal Committee on Ministry, Team 2 in the Southern California/Nevada Conference, seeking to be an active support to conference pastors endeavoring to empower and unite. Pastor Love received her M.Div. from Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis in May 2023 and her Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) from Michigan State University in 1991. If you could sum up Pastor T’s passion in one word, it would be Unity. Unity with self, unity with others, both a product of unity with God

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