“You are the church, I am the church, we are the church together! We who follow Jesus, all round the world, we are the church together.” The lyrics to this chorus say it all. With all of our stories, our congregations, our disagreements, our ministries and our global relationships—we are the church together.
This week, many of us are holding our Presbyterian sisters and brothers who are meeting in Minneapolis in our thoughts and prayers. I am praying that God's extravagant love, grace and a "no-boundaries Gospel" will inform and inspire this gathering. We don’t necessarily agree with each other, but we are all called to pray for each other as we live into new policies that allow presbyteries to evaluate candidates based on discernment rather than exclusionary policies.
The Presbyterian Church (USA) voted presbytery by presbytery to pass Amendment 10-A which removed discriminatory barriers to qualified, faithful lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people into full membership and service in our Church. Support grew in almost every presbytery so now G-2.0104 is in our Book of Order.
For me and thousands of Presbyterians, this is life-giving and an answer to prayer. For the Presbyterians who are meeting this week in Minneapolis as “The Fellowship” the elimination of prohibitions is a challenge to their faith, moral compass and a particular interpretation of Scripture.
I join many in holding our Presbyterian sisters and brothers in “The Fellowship” in my thoughts and prayers. I am praying that God's extravagant love, grace and a "no-boundaries Gospel" will inform and inspire this gathering. I pray for all of the parents in “The Fellowship” with gay or LGBT children; or persons who are gay or LGBT themselves. Every Presbyterian who attends this meeting has gay or LGBT persons in their congregation who worship, pray and serve alongside them. Surely we can find ways to create space at God's table for all regardless of our human differences. It is God's table, not ours.
This is not the first time our beloved church has struggled over who should be in leadership and it gives me hope. All of us can pause and reflect upon the history of women's ordination in the Presbyterian Church and see what insights and lessons might emerge to guide us through this moment. Our Church is clearly stronger and more effective in ministry because of the leadership and service of women. I believe that the church will have a stronger and wider ministry through opening the doors to qualified people, regardless of orientation or gender identity.
God calls us, we must respond. Today, the whole church is being called to respond in love to the world. With Hurricane Irene threatening the east coast, economic distress, poverty increasing in our country and around the world, famine in Somalia, our Church needs to focus 100% of our energy on mission and relieving human suffering. At the end of the day, does it really matter that someone serving God in mission is a woman or gay? What is God calling us to be and do, but to love God with all our heart, mind and strength and love our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus was clear that all are neighbor. Together, let us be the church together that reflects God's heart and ministers to all of God's children.
Image via Flickr stpaulgirl