Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Reponse to Scott Anderson's interview...

The following is a response to a recent interview of Scott Anderson by Janet Edwards on her blog A Time to Embrace:

Dear Janet,

Thanks for this interview and thanks to Scott for his dedication to the radical message of the gospel, made even more radical because we have moved so far from it in so many ways. I couldn't agree more about fighting, especially over Scripture. Still...

... if Jesus could flip the tables of the moneychangers on much more might he respond in the face of our sisters and brothers paying the price of exclusion and bearing the brunt of the complicity of a church in its teachings? Teachings that impact the broad society, and in this instance, foster marginalization and violence toward our sisters and brothers who are LGBT, all done in his name? I think the tables, at least, would fly again.

As I see it, for a church to be relevant, it must take the same risks that Jesus did, risks which ended up having him executed. We're not there, maybe never will be in taking such risks. But the path to such steadfast love is too often littered with the selfish needs of others. In this case, the needs seem to include a requisite comfortability with the LGBT community before we are fully embraced. So, the church accepts, as a matter of course, the destruction of others' lives until enough people are comfortable for a church, this church, to finally say, "Welcome."

I believe that it must be the church that leads the way, and not for the benefit of you, Scott, or me, really, but for all those who see this church as unwelcoming. For those we are turning away. How can we be who we say we are and continue such practices? How can our leadership from the local congregations to the moderator's office do anything other than publicly and unequivocally call for change now, letting others hear the voice we follow in so many ways? What on earth or in the heavens are we afraid of? Maybe, better question, what are we afraid of losing for speaking out with such conviction and risk?

This is not just about polity. It is about witness and about execution: an execution now being done by some in the name of Jesus.

That's got to be enough to turn some tables over...

Ray Bagnuolo, Minister Word and Sacrament
Ordained and openly gay in 2005
Serving Jan Hus Presbyterian Church and Neighborhood House
New York City
Board Member of More Light Presbyterians, speaking only for myself.


Anonymous said...

Hey Ray! Thanks for sending the conversation with Scott and for your comments, too. I must confess I have always struggled with the idea of giving up our lives for causes we believe in. It always seems to hit particularly close to home this close to Easter. I enjoyed your blog! Will try to follow more closely! Ann

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Janet, Ray, Scott for keeping these conversations active. I agree that building relationships through talking and listening is vital, and silent separation and judgment / blame is not healthy in Christian community.
However, I think that there is also a point in time that we need to take a stand and openly say that inclusion of openly GLBT persons in the full lives of our churches is not a matter of which worship style of music people prefer. This is a matter where some churches' intolerance and ignorance and yes, homophobia, is downright dangerous to the mental and physical and spiritual well-being of our GLBT brothers and sisters-in-Christ. It also threatens to exclude people who feel called by God to ministry.

I had a discussion about the Presbyterian churches in our area with some coworkers and a volunteer just yesterday at work. (2 of whom are Presbyterian) We asked why some Presbyterian churches felt the need to pull out of PCUSA -- in order to judge on God's behalf God's children who choose to accept their human sexuality as a part of their God-given creation?
We moved to our present location 8 yrs. ago.
Unfortunately, because the American Baptists Churches of Pennsylvania and Delaware have decided to deliberately exclude welcoming and affirming congregations from open participation in local associations and the region, I, as a straight person, could not find an ABC congregation to join in Pittsburgh's North Hills. My husband and I, lifelong American Baptists most recently in a welcoming church in Virginia, could not join with congregations that supported an openly negative stance towards both openly GLBT persons and those who supported the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists. Let us hope that the Presbyterians will be able to come to a more loving understanding in keeping conversations open and in seeking to find common bonds in Christian fellowship.

Edith S., a lay person, Wexford/Pittsburgh, Pa., speaking only for myself.