Earlier today, I wasn’t sure how I would respond to the news. I have gotten to know so many beautiful men and women of faith whose gifts have been devalued because of their orientation. They have been unable to fully live into their calling and thus have been like precious jewels allowed to become clouded by neglectful stewards. Certainly they have faithfully served, but when you have to hold a little bit of yourself back in most of your working relationships, it wears on you.
I also have come to know and love dearly people who faithfully read the Bible and the confessions of the church in such a way they believe God does not and would not want practicing LGBTQ people ordained. They believe that removing the language requiring fidelity and chastity is against God’s will for God’s people and damages the church’s witness to the world. I don’t agree with them, but I can certainly see where they get to that interpretation and concern. I know what it is to feel that the church you love is getting it wrong; I can’t diminish or ignore that pain in my sisters and brothers.
That’s why I wasn’t sure how I would feel. I kept one eye on twitter all day at work. Watching comments come in from both perspectives, I knew that my heart would be leaping and dancing with those who finally felt at home in their own church- even as it felt compassion for those who felt let down by the very same church. Votes from early in the day came in against 10-A. And it was time for our Tuesday night ritual.
Tuesdays are Youth Alliance night- I drive downtown and find someplace to hang out while the FPK hangs with friends from around Central Florida, mostly LGBTQ with a couple of straight allies. It is one of the few places that he feels welcomed and invited to be himself. OYA became his “youth group” when he no longer felt welcome at the church. During confirmation class, he asked about our church’s stance on gay marriage and if there was an official stance on homosexuality. I was honest. About that time, it became clear that most of the adults there were of the “love the sin, hate the sinner” variety. They’d never been that way about anger, selfishness or other sins that kids often display, so he knew the score. Church was not so different from school: the bullies were just more subtle and older.
I had hoped to have an answer from the Presbytery of the Twin Cities before the OYA meeting ended. I really didn’t want to be on the road, since I was tracking on twitter and needed to text a couple of friends in meetings once I knew the answer. But no- their dinner break meant I had to hit the road with no result. And a chatty kiddo in the car.
Meanwhile, by a series of happy accidents, I ended up texting with a UDTS friend who was at the Twin Cities meeting in Minneapolis. In the room! She promised to send word as soon as results were read. So it came to pass that I was driving down the 408 Expressway teaching the kid how to read my Twitter timeline and all the hashtags when my text alert went off. I asked the kiddo to read it (which is our safe-driving habit, of course).
RESOUNDING YES!!! 205 for, 56 against, 3 abstentions! THANK YOU GOD!!!!
There I was in the car, my queer child reading me the news that some day my church could ordain him. How was I going to feel? I had my answer when he clapped and whooped right along with me. I don’t know if he’ll ever come back to the church, but at least now there is hope. And that made me happy. My friends who have longed to pastor with their whole hearts can do so. We are now a church that says with our polity that God calls whom God calls and the church affirms.
I hope that we are also a church that says All are welcome. Including those who aren’t ready for this change. Including those who will continue to fight this change. Including those who haven’t cared about gay ordination and won’t care about it tomorrow because they just want a place to meet God, be fed and have a break from the beating that life gives them day after day.
I hope that we are a church that says Let’s get to work. Building disciples who understand that faith in God is sweeter when shared, that we are surrounded by people in need of compassion and grace, and that our neighbors will never know the Good News if no one goes to tell them.
Let’s get to work, rebuilding relationships between churches so that we can do more together.
Let’s get to work, planting new churches and faith communities, revitalizing those that need new life, learning from those who are flourishing and honoring those congregations whose work is done.
Let’s get to work figuring out where we go from here.
But first- a little ice cream.