Saturday, March 1, 2008

We need to change the Constitution, not create ways around it.

Dear Friends,

The recent decisions by the GAPJC clarify in bold terms the reasons why no true progress will be made in our denomination for the full inclusion of LGBT folk until G-6.0106b is gone. None of this is surprising.

Maintaining an amendment in our Book of Order that is violent, exclusive, marginalizing, and deeply-flawed – not to mention in opposition to the movement of the Spirit – is unconscionable. Every Christian who has ever understood the risk involved in being a Christian understands that there is no "safe" way to litigate around G-6.0106b. We simply cannot pass new legislation to interpret what should be removed. If the risk in being just is a risk to the unity of the church, then the unity we have achieved is flawed and needs to be changed.

This has been a long and tedious process; LGBT folks and their allies have given their heart and their trust to the multiple processes that have promised hope and justice in our time. We have trusted in groups that were promised to be safe for discussions, only to have them used against us. We have agreed to moratoriums, only to have them violated. We have stood together at Presbytery meetings and General Assemblies to hear ourselves talked about as if we were some errant act of God's creation: not only second class in our citizenship but second class in creation. We have watched friends' lives deeply and unfairly altered by the full weight of the imbalance of power in this church. We have watched fear used to cower the voices that otherwise would speak for themselves.

And through it all, like Lisa [Larges] and Paul [Capetz] and faithful others, we have persisted. We have remained in the church to try and change it with loving-kindness and the encouragement we share for each other, bonded in the love of God we know so well.

With the many overtures and concurrences coming together in a most amazing way, this General Assembly has a different kind of promise. The overtures to restore the language of the Heidelberg Catechism, to remove G-6.0106b from the Book of Order, to the change the language in the Directory for Worship – all these broaden the call we share: to once and for all, reform this Constitution of ours to reflect all of us.

There can be no interpretation of G-6.0106b, the Heidelberg's redacted language, or the Directory for Worship's definition of marriage. All these need to be made clear for all to hear and see, ringing loudly, so all may hear the peal of welcome. We need to change the Constitution, not create ways around it.

If we rely on any task forces or measures to get around what needs to be removed and changed, we will continue to experience the decisions, divisiveness, and the dehumanization that is evidenced in the recent rulings by the GAPJC.

I fully support MLP and others who unflinchingly continue to call for such changes. May they reflect the deep truth that lies in all our hearts, and may we join in that chorus faithfully and with courage.

I look forward to working together with everyone who has hope for this church, on both sides of the aisles and in-between.

There is an inclusive church beyond these changes, with room everyone, and I believe it is up to us to change it.


Ray Bagnuolo
Openly Gay Interim Minister, Palisades Presbyterian Church
Palisades, NY