It has been a long day and an exhausting day on both an emotional and physical level, but I feel very privileged to have been part of it.
As a General Assembly, we spent almost the entire day working our way through a process designed by a committee of former moderators help us discern the guidance of the Holy Spirit on a pathway forward for our denomination.
I believe that the process worked — that is, I believe that the Spirit spoke and that we listened.
I saw an Assembly that was actually focussed on working prayerfully and carefully together. I saw an Assembly that was actually interested in talking about the substance of the issues that were before us instead of getting bogged down on procedure like we so often do.
I saw hearts and minds change and evolve through the process and knew that the Spirit was working on my own heart.
It was a process that was not about winning or losing but about finding a path that we could live with together as much as possible. That process led us to a place where the Assembly was able to choose as the best way forward a path that would affirm the full participation of LGBTQI individuals in the life of the church.
My Feelings this Evening.
I feel content with the work of the Assembly today because I do feel that God was in it and the Holy Spirit was moving in the room.
I am happy for what this action says to LGBTQI individuals who have felt rejected, unloved and even been abused by the church. I am happy for the LGBTQI youth who have been placed into extreme situations, who have contemplated or attempted suicide because of the rejection that they have experience at the hand of the church. I am happy that I feel much more able to say to anyone that I may meet that, yes, they are truly welcome in the church as they are. I am happy for what this says to our youth who would never even consider rejecting their LGBTQI friends because of who they are.
I am sad because I know that some of my Christian brothers and sisters are hurt by this action and because some might feel that they must leave. I pray that we may continue in unity and shared work. I love them and appreciate them very much for who they are.
What this doesn’t mean
- This doesn’t mean that this is over or that a final decision has been made. A number of details will need to be worked out. In addition, legislation will be prepared and sent down under the barrier act. That means that the motion will need to be sent to the Presbyteries of the denomination and will need to be approved by a majority of them before being brought back to a future General Assembly for approval. This is a significant first step, but it is not the end of the journey.
- Will every Presbyterian be expected to agree with full inclusion? No. We believe that we can belong to the church without agreeing about everything. Congregations will not be obliged to perform any marriages that they do not wish to perform. Congregations will continue to be able to call whomever they want as their minister. I believe that we can and should happily continue to make places in our congregations for people who do not or cannot believe in full inclusion. No one should feel obliged to leave.
I honour the process that I have participated in today and so I feel that I must continue to support the pathway that the Assembly has chosen to take in any way I can.