The Trial of the PC(USA)
Monday, August 23
San Rafael Califormia
Tomorrow, the church trial of Janie Spahr begins. It is a continuation of the attempts of some to prevent the marriages of same-gender couples. Eleven of the couples The Rev. Dr. Janie Spahr married during the time they were legal in California will testify before the Permanent Judicial Committee (PJC) at the Covenant Presbyterian Church in Napa. This is Janie's second trial for marrying same gender couples. The first ended when the then PJC ruled that since there is no such thing as "gay marraige" in the church constitution, whatever Janie might have done - it wasn't a marraige in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Case closed.
Not true. This "case" will not be closed until there is a breakthrough. A breakthrough that makes it clear to those who use the lives and loves of people who are LGBT as their rallying cry that this argument is over. That while we are fully willing and committed to healing and working through our differences together, this church and the lives of its members cannot be used to spread fear, hatred, and violence by a litigious and frightened few bent on excluding gay folk. Any place that does that, whatever it is, is not church; cannot be church - in the PC(USA) or anywhere else.
After 9/11, just about every country in the world came rushing to the side of the USA, ready to make it clear that the world community was with us and against such terrible acts of horror. We had a chance to lead in a thoughtful, collaborative, and strongly measured world response. Instead, we missed the chance. The chance to draw closer together in a response that could easily have led to greater cooperation across a wide host of human needs around the world. Instead, we made it clear that we were the same nation that exercized the only use of atomic weapons in history. We made it clear that anger and fear (and lies to support the associated vengeance) would continue to be the order of the day.
Such opportunities in history happen infrequently, but there are times when groups of individuals and their leadership have the chance to move the cause toward justice beyond the easy embrace and entanglement of the status quo, too often based on unjust and unholy arguments.
In Napa, this week, the PJC will have the chance to "call out" the consuming non-argument of whether same gender people and their sacred covenants be honored with marriage. They will have the chance to make it clear that ministers in this church can only be faithful to their ordination vows by honoring and officiating at same gender marraiges, when asked. The courage to stand up and state that the church is wrong to block the way of honoring such love will change the course of this church. It will move us further in reaching the point where we can work together to address the broader spiritual and world needs that call out to us, refusing to allow the voices of fear and bigotry from holding all of us, all of us hostage.
This is a time when such things can happen. If you think that is not true, just look at how hard others are fighting against us. It is a time into which we have been invited by the faithfulness of ministers, such as The Rev. Dr. Janie Spahr, who continue to honor their vows and continue to serve others.
It seems that any charges that are being brought forth against Janie and others, have been brought againt the wrong parties. It is perhaps the accusers that ultimately will indict themselves by these attempts to divide this church. And, when that happens, we will be there, with all the married couples, to welcome them back to a church that includes one and all.