Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Response to The Berkley Blog

The Berkley Blog

Dear Jim,

I am a minister of Word and Sacrament, ordained as an openly gay man in 2005, prior to PUP. Throughout my process, I made it clear that I could not abide by G-6.0106b, as a matter of conscience. I was not a child, at the time. In fact, I was in my mid-fifties. I was called to serve a congregation as a part-time interim. Over three years, we worshipped together, baptized several young children, buried more than a dozen members, and entered the Spirit together in the ways that any pastor, aware of the mystery of God, would do so: humbly and listening.

As I read your blog from time to time, I always read first how you describe yourself. I could say much of what you say about yourself – about me.

When I get to the comments, though, I wonder why folks are expending so much energy in opposition to people like me, not knowing much about who I am, or what I do, or how I live my life. Yet, because I am gay, I am a target. That is something that gives me pause, perhaps it gives pause to some of your readers, as well.

I wonder, too, about the many individuals and caring families that comment here or sit in your church and other pews that are struggling because their son or daughter, a friend, or others they know - good people whom they love - is gay. Is it possible that considering all we know, have read, and written that maybe God is giving such friends and children to us so that those who oppose and discriminate against LGBT people in God's church might change – not the other way around?

There will always be two sides to every bit of proof-texting, it is what books, seminaries, and good sermons are made of. Unfortunately, it is also what primary fund-raising efforts in many instances rely upon. We could easily pick out sections of the Bible that are no longer followed because they are clearly wrong and inappropriate for our day.  Then there are some of those we keep…because they serve a purpose, a purpose not grounded in love.

My point in all this is that we have substituted love and honoring the continuing revelation of God's call to love serve one another, with a call to judgment and marginalization of others. If we can step beyond our fear to see that this is what we are doing, maybe, maybe we will just find God in one another in ways that will heal us, allowing us to embrace one another rather than to aim at gay people as targets.

When that happens, I think, the Word and Sacrament will have changed the world, once again.


Raymond J. Bagnuolo

Minister of Word and Sacrament

Presbytery of Hudson River, NY