My comments from tonight's meeting of the Presbytery of West Jersey. These were my words regarding Amendment 10-A, which would remove the "chastity and fidelity" requirement for ordination, opening the door for queer folk to be ordained as Elders, Deacons, and Ministers of the Word and Sacrament.
One quick note, there were three references to Nazi Germany tonight, all from the folks who are against ordaining queer folk. I gotta say that I would have gone a different way with Bonhoeffer. Also, could we please retire the phrase "The Homosexual Question"?
After discussion the vote was 67-67. Tie votes usually mean a no vote, but we voted to re-cast the vote at our May 17th meeting, with no discussion or debate permitted. So then, my comments:
I’ve only been a pastor for 2 years, but what I have realized is that the more certain I am that I am right, the more likely it is that I am wrong. This realization came to me while mediating a conflict in which all parties were certain that the problem was the other group’s fault. I know we have all been there in the church, all of us, elders and ministers.
The discussion around this amendment bears remarkable resemblance to that conflict—we all come from places of deep conviction and deep love for the Presbyterian Church. We all have our favorite Scriptures to support our convictions. Yet even in the midst of this fractious battle over ordination standards, we stand united in our love and respect for Christ—truly I believe it may be all that unites us.
Last fall I chose to publicly claim a queer identity. I chose to continue to serve the church and remain a member of the Presbytery—to live and work and have my being among all of you, even as a queer, divorced, woman pastor. It was a terrible risk. But my ministry at New Covenant continues, and I will remain as long as I am useful there.
Amendment 10A calls for us to submit joyfully to Christ and to examine our candidates carefully to see if they are a good fit for the community they will serve. It is a risk. There will surely be some lousy queer elders, deacons, and ministers—perhaps you know some straight folk who are messy? And yet 10A allows for the possibility that the Spirit might be moving among queer folk in the same way that it moves among straight folk.
10A allows room for the Spirit to move in a church that has become paralyzed with grief and anger. I hope we will move into uncertainty, trusting that we are united in our love for Christ.