The Mennonite Church USA made their report from last weekend’s meetings public today. To be honest, I feel a bit sick to my stomach. (Though it is hard to say if that is solely because of the statement or also due to the inadvisable amount of cake I just consumed to console myself.)
I want to make an eloquent argument about why the Executive Board is wrong in its refusal to acknowledge the ministerial credentials of Theda Good–and any other Mennonites who are queer and called to ministry. Morally wrong. Theologically wrong. Strategically wrong. Just . . . infinity wrong.
I want to point out the numerous inconsistencies in the report itself. Not to mention the inconsistency with which the board is enforcing the policies and “teaching positions” of the seven “guiding documents” that it cites in the report.
But I’m tired of negativity and criticism. And I’m tired of picking apart the words of other people and of choosing my own words ever so carefully, one by one, with little linguistic tweezers. And I’m tired of being disappointed and upset and spiritually drained.
So instead of a scathing (and what I’m sure would be brilliant) critique of the Executive Board’s report, I am going to write a love letter:
Dear Queer Mennonites,
Yes, you. Gay guys and lesbians. Bisexuals and polysexuals. Transgendereds and cross-dressers and otherwise non status-quo-heteros. You. I love you. And I am sorry that our denomination is still treating you in unloving ways.
I love your gifts. Gifts of music and writing and preaching and worship leading and prophecy and discernment. The church needs these gifts, and you continue to graciously offer them even when they are not graciously received.
I love your perspective. There are times I get tired and forget to care enough about the injustice and discrimination in the church; you remind me why it is important. There are times I want to cry and yell and scream about the injustice and discrimination in the church; you make me laugh instead. Or you remind me that the Holy Spirit is more powerful than the Executive Board of MCUSA. And you sing. Always. No matter what. You sing fabulously!
I love your courage. Being honest about who God created you to be. Proclaiming your faithfulness. Criticizing traditional (mis) interpretations of scripture. Showing up when and where you are not wanted–but are desperately needed. That all takes courage. And you do it anyway. Over and over again.
And I love the fact that you are still here. I am humbled and deeply grateful for your presence. There are times I don’t understand why you stay. But I am so very glad you do. You make the way of Jesus clearer for us all. Whether we like it or not.
I hardly know what to say to you in the shadow of the recent Executive Board report except that I love you. And I promise to keep fighting (in peaceful, Mennonite ways, of course) for your inclusion and equality in our churches and our denomination.
May the joy of our spectacular Creator, the deep and abiding peace of Jesus Christ, and the relentless power of the Holy Spirit surround and infuse you, my brothers and sisters.