I recently resigned after 23 years of teaching and preaching at Orchard Hill Church.
I have been fielding questions about my departure. The most common being, Why?
The simple answer to that question is this: I have a theological difference with our senior leadership team and our Board of elders.
My understanding of Jesus and his radical grace-based welcome is that no one - NO ONE - is ever left out. Everyone belongs. Everyone has an equal seat at the table of Jesus' love. This radical welcome includes our LGBTQ+ friends and neighbors in all their diverse beauty and humanity.
I am officiating a Christian same-sex wedding next summer. This choice has put me at odds with Orchard Hill Church policy which states that "marriage is between one man and one woman."
Rather than rescind my offer to perform the wedding, I resigned.
This choice has caused me great anguish. I have chosen to give up (for now) the work and calling I love. But, I did it willingly, for I could no longer preach and teach about the everyone-is-included welcome of Jesus while failing to welcome - fully welcome - those among us who often get pushed to the margins of our society and the church.
This is why I left.
I understand others have views different from mine on this issue. I respect and honor your right to those views. I trust you will do the same for me.
To my Orchard Hill Church friends and family: I love you. I loved leading the teaching team. I loved coaching our amazing squad of young teachers. But, I loved teaching first and foremost. You as a congregation have been so gracious and kind to me. You listened intently as I did my best to teach what I kept learning about Jesus. In fact, we learned right alongside each other. You laughed at my stories and bad jokes. You wept with me during times of hardship. You taught me how to more fully follow Jesus. You are all tucked right inside my heart.
Thank-you Alice! LOVE is the answer and it is obvious you have the answer.
Love really is love!
LOVE IS THE ANSWER!!! Agree, Esther!
I applaud your courage to stand for Jesus!!
As a Christian and the mother of two young adults, both of whom are decidedly LGBT, I thank you from the bottom of my heart...❤️
You are welcome. Hug those beautiful babies close!!!
I admire you for standing up for your beliefs. You will be missed! Hope you find another place to use your gifts & talents. God bless you, Alice.
Will miss you so much, Cindy!
I am Catholic and came to Orchard because of your intellect and understanding of Jesus. My Lord and God and my other teachers have always told me that God and Jesus is first and foremost LOVE..... Love of people and community. Jesus came to earth for the sinners and all people because He loves us. He did not exclude the LGBQA+ community or any other diverse community. He was excluded because of His Beliefs and Teachings. Alice, your example of leaving Orchard is one of Jesus' example! You matched Jesus' teachings of love of people. Love, unfortunately, includes pain. Let those of us you respect, revere, and love you, help you through this pain of love!
Well said, Gayle!!!
I have felt the "I just can't do this anymore" before. Being brave and humble is the way to go. Well done Alice.
Thank you, Miss Molly!
Your courage is inspiring, Alice. God has plans for you as you move forward. It's incredibly painful, however, to leave a place you love. May God touch you with healing and fill your heart with hope.
Your courage has been inspiring to me all these years, Cathy. Thanks for leading the way!
You lead through Christ's love. Thank you for welcoming all, Alice.
Thank you. And you are welcome, Beth!
I respect you so much, Alice, and I'll always be grateful for the lessons I learned from you during my time at Orchard. I'm inspired by your commitment to the truth, and I feel confident you will continue to be a light to others in this new chapter. Cheering you on!
And I am cheering you on!!!!
I do hope you are continuing this blog. Each and every time you spoke, I felt you knew my story and was talking directly to my heart(bad grammar, sorry).I am have a deeper connection with God due to your teaching. Thank you for leading with a Jesus heart and utilizing the free will God gave each of us. You are truly an amazing person. My life would not be as rich today if I shunned all of the friends and relatives I have that are of LBGTQ community. Carry on.
I WILL continue this blog, promise!!! And I only shared what God was teaching me, so he must like to teach us all the same things??? I love that you have fully embraced all your family members. Diversity is so beautiful!
My dear Alice, I admire you for taking a stand in the name of Love. You are the best I know at just being true to yourself. And in doing so, you are displaying Love in action and not just words. May God continue to guide and direct you!
Thanks, dear Jewel. You are a gem! (See what I just did there?)
Thank you for modeling the inclusive, abundant, radical grace of our loving God. I admire your integrity, and acknowledge the pain of such a difficult decision. May you continue to serve in ways that fit your inner heart. Love to you ❤️
Thank you, brave friend. I have always admired you!
It took great strength of character to take such a brave stand Alice. I am proud of you. I often despair for what I feel is glaring hypocrisy of the Christian Community. You have restored some of my ability to hope that possibly there are more "Alice's" out there than I would imagine. I'm sure that somehow a place to continue your sharing the abundant love of God awaits you.
Thank you for your kind words, my old 1st Pres singing buddy!
oh wow i’ve never loved you more -❤️ wow i’m speechless at this. thank you for the teachings i’ve witnessed through you. My love of Jesus grew with you and now my love of Him shines through you standing up for ❤️ love
Aw, Meghan. How very kind.
Alice, I don't know you, but I am Drake Martin's former wife, we met only at his funeral. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for putting love and the teaching of Jesus at the forefront of your ministry. I fear for the churches who fail to accept that there are all kinds of people, all kinds of love and Jesus never condenmed any of them. Drake would be the first to stand and applaud your ministry and your decision...and he would be right behind you. Thank you for honoring the work I know he had started at Orchard and for standing up for the love of Jesus in all situations. I am confident that what led you away from Orchard will lead you into a fulfilling ministry with people who support and encourage your love for all. You will be in my prayers as this time of discernment and healing moves forward. God's peace to you and yours.
Bless you, Carolyn. Drake was simply the best.
Alice Shirey I am going to share your writing with my kids. They have turned their back on the church because they have not felt included since their dad and I separated. My youngest is part of the LGBTQ+ community and I couldn't love her or this anymore than I do.
I am so sorry your kids did not feel included at church. That breaks my heart. Hug your youngest from me, please!
So proud of you Alice. Love is love.
It sure is, Lynnette!
I have loved your teaching days at Orchard; you made everything seem so relatable! I am sorry that you are leaving, but truly believe that you will do great things for Jesus wherever you land next. I also respect your need to stand up for your principles and appreciate the strength that takes! Good luck Alice - I look forward to continuing to “listen” to you here!
Thank you, Sara!!! I am glad I have this little place to share some thoughts! And so glad you read them. 🙂
I will miss you so!!! You are Jesus' hands and feet. And heart. Above all. Heart. Thank you for serving so well for so long. Let us know where God's path leads you.
You are Jesus' hands and feet. And heart. Above all, heart. Let us know where his path leads you. You have encouraged me for years and I thank u.
Thank you, Joanne. I have always loved seeing your smile in the front-ish rows!
Oh, Alice... so sorry... you will be missed at OHC! We have always been thankful for your real and relatable teachings. This is your best teaching yet though.... All the best to you in what comes next.
Thank you for this blog! We will follow your teachings wherever the Lord calls you - all the way from Arizona. =)
Hello long-lost friend! Thank you for your kind words. I miss you guys!!
I will miss your sermons at the Grundy campus. I admire you for your stance. My oldest son recently came out and I’m so proud of him. He is who he is and we need to acknowledge that. I couldn’t imagine not following your heart. We need to learn to accept people for who they are. So glad I can follow your blog. ❤️