Friday, August 21, 2009

"the vote"

I should probably do more reflections on the entire day, but voting on resolutions 3 & 4 (new numbering) were the most momentous, so I'll just speak to those.

Resolution 3 spoke about allowing gay and lesbian pastors in publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous relationships. It did not mandate acceptance, but allowed acceptance. There were definitely attempts to change the substance or speak about how this would kill the church - both by schism and by people just leaving their congregations. There was a warning that our salvation might be in jeopardy if we voted in favor of that resolution. But at the end, there was a vote in favor of (I think - this is from memory) 55%. I kind of figured that if we voted in favor of 3, we would definitely vote in favor of 4, but it definitely wasn't a "slam dunk". One voting member from the Florida-Bahamas synod walked out after the vote was announced on Resolution 3.

Resolution 4 had a number of amendments. One of the amendments - the only one that actually passed - added language which didn't change the substance at all, but did allow those who had voted in favor to see themselves named and included more fully. I voted against it, but I understand why it would make them feel more clear about being the dissenting opinion (and new minority).

Bishop Hanson led this church assembly with grace and style. Seriously, I've said some not so charitable things about him at times, but he was amazing. He reminded us not to respond in any way (like the people who shouted "no" when the results were displayed and the people who clapped when the social statement passed). When Resolution 4 was passed, he took a moment to address the assembly in a remarkably pastoral way. He read three different scripture passages - which roughly corresponded to those who rallied against this change, those who rallied for this change (incluidng gay and lesbian people who have been disenfranchised for many years), and those who were somewhere "in the middle". He was pastoral, while not implying in any way that this move was a mistake. Tears were streaming down my cheeks through his entire time talking.

The moment was overwhelming - I kept envisioning people I knew and how this affected them - members of my congregation who felt a call to ministry and would've had to decide whether to serve a church that discriminated against them, friends who had left the ministry (or seminary) and come out, gay/lesbian seminarians I know, and so many more. Heck, I even joked with Bishop Miller that this probably means Ebenezer is off his plate as far as constitution trouble goes! He agreed that was probably the good news fall out of this assembly!

it's been very interesting to watch those who are used to be in the majority and used to being on top experience disenfranchisement and exclusion. Not that I think that's how they're being treated, but for the first time, they have to deal with what it feels like not to be heard, not to be in the majority, not to feel represented (as gay and lesbian Christians have for numerous years!). I think that's why those of us who were in favor of policy change are still so conflicted. We know what it feels like to be excluded, to be disenfranchised. For us to think that we contributed to someone feeling that way makes us feel terrible. A few of us were having trouble moving up to the Goodsoil room because we weren't ready for a huge celebration yet.

I am really celebrating this day - and I seriously did not think it would come in 2009. But I am also facing two more days of assembly in an atmosphere that is highly emotionally charged and somewhat sorrowful. We still need your prayers.

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