This installation of #WeAretheRCA comes from a Minister of Word and Sacrament who has chosen to remain anonymous, but self-describes as someone who “loves the Church but facepalms about it a lot.” If you are an LGBTQ+ person or an ally who is affected by the actions of General Synod 2016, I invite you to submit a letter to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note whether you would like to be named, first name only, or anonymous, and any biographical information you would like me to share.
Dear General Synod 2016,
Honestly, I’m still a little angry with you. I am still ashamed at the ways you conducted yourselves on the floor of this assembly, and I am ashamed that the Minutes of General Synod will reflect this for generations to come. I am also angry that the first thought I had after writing that sentence was “well, assuming the RCA lasts that long.”
I would like to think that if you knew the people I know—the couples who are some of the best examples of faithful Christian love I’ve ever known, the children who have been tormented by their peers for their gender identity or their sexuality, the leaders who are so very obviously called by God to work in and for the local church—if you knew these people, I wouldn’t need to write this letter because we would all see how God is at work in these lives and that discussion of marriage and ordination would’ve been unnecessary.
But here’s the thing. You do know these people. You sat in seminary classrooms with them. You’ve preached to them. You’ve baptized them. You’ve been in congregational meetings and Sunday School rooms with them. The RCA is not a big space. You’ve known some of them far longer than I have.
And yet, here we are. I’m sitting at my computer writing this, and soon you’ll be sitting at your computer reading this. And I have to wonder: if you cannot see the image of God in the people right in front of you, how could I ever convince you to see it in people whose lives you could never begin to imagine? If you cannot see the fruits of the Spirit in a person whose identity and relationships you refuse to understand, how could you possibly see the Spirit’s power in the courage to come out to friends/family/the world, or in the immense amount of energy it takes to believe that you are beloved of God when you hear SO MANY voices telling you to hate yourself?
As I listened, I heard a lot of you mention your own sin in the most generic of terms—a few of you even got up to the mic and said something like “(name)/(classis)/sinner” as you introduced yourselves. You then used that generality as an excuse to name someone else’s “sin” in very specific words. Some of those words were unnecessarily hurtful, some were just incoherent, and some were simply wrong.
Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount that “the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” I expect more from leaders in the Church than showing up to make decisions like this with hearts full of hurt, confusion, and half-truths. I expect more than the fear, misinformation, and brashness you exhibited.
So, here is my invitation to you for General Synod 2017: watch for the Spirit’s movement, reconsider your hearts, then reconsider your words.
An RCA Minister of Word and Sacrament