Saturday, April 25, 2009

Why I Love My Church

I was at an evangelism conference last fall when someone brought up an interesting factoid: 75 percent of pastors would not worship at the church they currently serve.
I found that rather depressing, and I also thought that aside from the obvious vocational/professional/decent-and-orderly concerns I would certainly worship at the church I serve.
This weekend I am reminded of why.
I spent about six hours today helping rehab the Arlington home of a 90-year-old woman. We worked with a crew from The Falls Church Episcopal. I don't know what the church from which they splintered a few years back would have made of the Clarendon crew: four gay men, a lesbian, a straight married couple, a straight single woman, another straight man and his 18-year-old son. I don't think the homeowner cared a bit. She was just thrilled that her extremely run-down home now has a new kitchen, new floors in the living room and hallway, repaired plaster and windows, a refurbished and refloored bathroom and painted bedrooms.
Friday evening, about a dozen of us gathered at church to watch the award-winning documentary For the Bible Tells Me So. As the movie's web site says,
Through the experiences of five very normal, very Christian, very American families -- including those of former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt and Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson -- we discover how insightful people of faith handle the realization of having a gay child. Informed by such respected voices as Bishop Desmond Tutu, Harvard's Peter Gomes, Orthodox Rabbi Steve Greenberg and Reverend Jimmy Creech, FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO offers healing, clarity and understanding to anyone caught in the crosshairs of scripture and sexual identity.

It is a beautiful and powerful film, and our wonderfully diverse group thoroughly enjoyed it.
Tomorrow morning we will gather in worship in the morning, and tomorrow afternoon our spring CALL group, a life-direction lab that we conduct in cooperation with the Center for Pastoral Counseling, will hit its stride.
Praising God, learning justice, discerning call, serving the least of these -- all in one weekend. Yes, I would be part of this community even if they didn't pay me. (Not that I object to being paid, mind you!)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Seeking Light: Updated

Hold National Capital Presbytery in the light today. We meet this afternoon and evening to vote on the proposed amendment to change our Book of Order (church constitution) to remove its current implied ban (G-6.0106b) on ordaining partnered gay or lesbian church officers (deacons, elders and ministers). I anticipate that the vote here will support the change. At the same time, I also anticipate what poet (and Presbyterian) Ann Weems might call a "meeting at which very little meeting takes place." I hope that my guess on the vote is accurate but that my prediction on the tenor of the meeting is wrong.
Presbytery met, and did as good a job as possible at creating space and time for Bible study and conversation. The parliamentary part of the meeting was not crafted with as much care and some chaos ensued. In a more closely divided body I suspect there would have been considerable anger, but patience prevailed. A "no action" motion from the Bills and Overtures Committee was defeated, and the Presbytery voted 222-102 to affirm the motion to amend G-6.106b to remove the language about fidelity and chastity.
At the same time, however, the vote nationally moved a bit closer to defeat of the amendment. While more than two dozen presbyteries have switched their votes from the most recent (2001) time the issue came before them, it is all but certain that this amendment will not prevail in the necessary 87 presbyteries. No doubt, we will be voting on this again.