Two longtime friends were coincidentally honored at the same event.
At the 40th anniversary Convocation of Reconciling Ministries Network, the board and staff chose various recipients for awards and honors. In addition to their prestigious yearly awards, they gave awards recognizing some folks for special service.
I’d like to lift up two of them and their connection to each other.
Origin Story: 2002, Oklahoma
In 2002, two friends named Kevin and Jeremy graduated from Oklahoma City University, having been in the same class of religion majors at this United Methodist-affiliated university. They took many of the same courses in the Wimberly School of Religion, and completed their bachelor’s degree in the same senior paper class.
After graduating, Jeremy went to Boston University for his MDiv, and Kevin went to Drew University for his MTS–both are official United Methodist seminaries. During these years and across the miles, Jeremy and Kevin were co-administrators at an online religion forum that welcomed open discussion while preserving anonymity, which allowed for honest testing of what one believed without causing ordination roadblocks or professional barriers.
Jeremy became a pastor, serving in Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Washington state. He started Hacking Christianity in 2008.
Kevin was commissioned into the deaconess and home missioner community. He worked at the General Board of Global Ministries and served on the Methodist Federation for Social Action board. Then as a second career, Kevin became a lawyer, currently serving incarcerated parents and families in New York.
A Virtuous Circle
Behind the scenes, Jeremy and Kevin became resources for each other as they served the Reconciling Ministries Movement. Both are white cis-het married males, so they wielded their privilege differently:
- Kevin worked behind the scenes as a United Methodist polity and legal expert, supporting LGBTQ+ persons under complaint and women abused by clergymen.
- Jeremy worked out front, writing blog posts and centering other voices on Hacking Christianity. Many of the polity questions were actually tested with Kevin as a resource.
At their 40th anniversary convocation in Charlotte, NC, in October 2023, Reconciling Ministries Network board and staff honored six individuals (read the stories here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5+6). You can imagine how chuffed we were when we received independent awards on the same day after 25 years of similar and intertwined lives.
We celebrate Rev. Jeremy Smith, who values truth and transparency, for his tireless dedication to making helpful information accessible to our global United Methodist connection, through Hacking Christianity, since 2008.
We celebrate Kevin Nelson, who values truth and justice, for decades of sharing his deep knowledge of the United Methodist Book of Discipline and offering expert legal counsel to Reconciling United Methodists.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. We’ll endeavor to earn them again for the next 40 years of Reconciling Ministries.
Jeremy and Kevin encourage you to financially support the Reconciling Ministries Network. 2024 is a formative year for the 40+ years of struggle for LGBTQ+ and intersectional justice in The United Methodist Church, and your gifts will have an immediate effect. Click here to donate.
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