Thursday, July 31, 2008

Queer Presbyterians

So, I've been meaning to blog about this for a month now -- that is, since I started the blog, I guess, but it's hard to know where to start. A big thing happened about a month ago, when the Presbyterian Church voted to immediately overturn previous rules barring "self-affirming, practicing homosexuals" from serving in ordained positions in the church, and proposed an amendment to the constitution that would remove language requiring ordained persons to adhere to "fidelity in the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness," thinly veiled anti-lgbt code that is selectively enforced. That second part, the amendment, has to be ratified by local governing bodies before it can take effect, and will be hard-fought. This was I am sure an historic moment in the history of the Presbyterian Church. Removing the bizarre and offensive "self-affirming, practicing" language is itself an enormous victory. More later on the importance of all this, to me, and to the wider world.

Today I want to talk about the hardest part of this for me, which has been watching it from a distance rather than being there with the folks I still consider in many ways to be my faith community. I became a member of the UCC a few years ago, not in any protest against the anti-queer policies of the PCUSA, but simply because there were no local Presbyterian congregations within a 45 minute drive who would genuinely welcome me. Initially I did not think going UCC would be a big deal - the UCC comes out of the Reformed tradition, and the differences would be minimal - if anything, the UCC's socially progressive record seemed a better fit. But seeking to become UCC - and I did this wholeheartedly, becoming an active member, serving on Church Council and as Vice-moderator of my congregation - only reinforced my sense of Presbyterian identity. Some of it was about polity, some of it about local traditions in my congregation and their departure from Reformed ideas, but most of it was about my sense of connectedness to other Presbyterians. I missed my community.

There is a potential route back for me to the PCUSA since my friend Heather is providing some much-needed nudging toward a long-discussed but as-yet-unrealized dream of a new church development in my area that would be Presbyterian and welcoming in nature. How great would it be to form this new community even as the larger Presbyterian Church mulls over what to do (again) about its queer members, who still haven't seemed to go away despite three decades and more of abuse and neglect through second-class citizenship and worse.

No comments: