I have always believed that it is G-6.0106b that has divided us. Not the people, not their hearts, not their voices - but G-6.0106b. I have always believed that had this amendment not been added to the Book of Order folk would not have been forced to galvanize around one side or the other. Had it not been added to the Book of Order the lives of people who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender would not have become a litmus test for the faithfulness of an entire church. With the approaching ratification of Amendment 10-A, we have a chance to unify in a way that has been absent for decades.
With others, I have felt enormous sadness over the marginalization of people like me who were gay, or otherwise identified themselves as Lesbian, Bisexual, or Transgender. I have felt the hurt of allies, family, and friends who watched those they loved discriminated against in a church they loved as well. And with great heart and hope, I and so many others have been carried by the unceasing support and belief that our cause was faithful and our call was to stay the course.
Now, with ratification of 10-A imminent, we have an opportunity to unite - in our differences and our agreements. We have an opportunity to unite in the new missions ahead, trusting in God and the Holy Spirit to reveal a witness of healing and welcoming for all. A healing and welcoming that has been too long buried under the weight of G-6.0106b.
Having known the feeling of being pushed aside by the church, I know that there are others who may soon feel that the church they know and love has marginalized them with the ratification of 10-A. I would only pray and ask that we give each other a chance. The sisters and brothers who are members of the gay community have long worked for a fully inclusive church, not to push others away, but to draw us all in more closely. We are soon to be uniquely positioned to carry the Gospel to a world that needs us to step beyond our differences and give God the lead in this new way we are called.
This world that is broken in many ways needs us to step into the tension of inviting others to a spiritual home that welcomes all. That means we will first have to learn to welcome one another more intentionally. That celebration is the one that I pray for. That is celebration that awaits us. The ratification of 10-A is one more step toward a church that can really make a difference in ending our long-standing struggle and the start of the healing to which God calls us all.
Will this be easy. I suspect not. However, we are a church exceptionally practiced at embracing the challenges for which others seek faithful leadership. I believe God gave us this gift and challenge because of who we are, what is needed in this world, and our ability to see it through.
In the words of this morning's Gospel of John: (John 20:21): "Peace to you. Just as God has sent me, I send you."
Let us go forth together. It's been too long we've been apart in this way. I and others are ready to do all we can to move this healing and new unity in the PC(USA) and beyond. Please, let us hear from you and how we might be of help.
Ray Bagnuolo, Minister of Word and Sacrament