THe following was sent to the blog for the Candidates and Inquirers Retreat currently taking place in Michgan. You can view the blog here at: http://www.bookofdis-order.blogspot.com/
How to stay connected without bleeding over the church?
Good question. Especially for those on the path to ordination who identify themsleves as queer.
Yet, a more important question, I think, is how not to allow our need for comfort and our fear of rejection prevent us from being honest and transparent with those who will bring their lives to us as their ministers.
The answer to both questions, for me, has been to embrace the possibility of not being ordained (I was) and losing the ordination (not yet!) by being honest and out from the start. When I finally realized that I did not need to be ordained to the degree that I would be other than who I was in such a sacred process, well - I think a lot of the bleeding stopped. It was the realization that my call was to stay on the path with the voice and life I had been given and leave the rest up to God. It took a while, but once I got there the freedom and the path opened in ways I never would have imagined.
For me, the idea of quietly shutting down part of the sacred gift of my identity to accommodate those who might approve me for ordination was to participate in the violence that nearly took my life and my soul. It would mean that I was to become complicit in perpetrating the silence that has been imposed on queer folk by the same instruction that invites us in, if we will just be quiet. For me, that is not an invitation to serve. It is an invitation to something quite different and, well, dysfunctional.
Not bleeding over the church may only be possible when we don't hold on so tightly to the church that we find ourselves impaled on the deceptive violence we hope to overturn by eliminating G-6.0106b from the Book of Order. True ministry is always about those we serve, and for me they deserve the greatest gift of all from their ministers – transparency that reveals the heart and creation of the God who calls us to this work in ways that welcome them with the same radical hospitality of Jesus -- alive and well in these limited days of ours.
I hope you find the retreat to be a blessed time of discernment, truth, and courage as only the Holy Spirit can make happen!
Peace and Namasthe,
Ray Bagnuolo, Palisades Presbyterian Church, Palisades, NY