As any living, breathing LGBT person knows, we’re usually hard-pressed to find a church that is going to be open and accepting. And, say we do find a church that is accepting of us as individuals … How will they feel if I bring my girlfriend and heaven forbid, want to hold her hand or put my arm around her? The last thing I want is to walk into a church and feel the glare of many judging eyes. I’ve been there before. And, to be honest, it’s kept me away from Christian churches for substantial amounts of time and made me wonder if there would ever be a place where I could go and be myself … As I believe God created me to be.
The U.S. arm of the Anglican Communion (The Episcopal Church USA) has been publicly debating the issues of gay ordination and same-sex unions for half a decade. This, of course, all came out (so to speak) when Gene Robinson (an openly gay Episcopal priest) was confirmed as a bishop at the 2003 general convention of the denomination.
The American Episcopal church seems to be predominantly liberal in its approach to this issue, but some North American dioceses have already pulled out of the American church and more are threatening to do the same. So, this week, the American House of Bishops is meeting in New Orleans to come to some sort of decision on the issue. Will they stand their ground as an open and inclusive Christian denomination or will they choose to bow to the Anglican Communion, for fear of disrupting the entire worldwide denomination with a church wide schism?
“The Bishop of North Carolina, Michael B. Curry, will bring the message from his people: Don’t do it. His people tell him not to bow to demands from the Anglican Communion that the American church stop ordaining openly gay bishops and blessing same-sex unions. Rev. George Clifford, a retired priest from Raleigh said, ‘We need to stand up for the truth as we understand it and be inclusive of all God’s people.'”
September 30th has been set as the date when they need to have it all figured out. Many people think that a church split is inevitable. Others hold out a hope that there can be reconciliation. Whichever way this discussion leads, there is no doubt that this week’s gathering in Louisiana is pivotal.
To me, a self-professed Christian who just happens to be a lesbian, it’s a no brainer. My understanding of the Christian faith leads me to two central principles: Love God. Love people. It’s as simple as that. There are no loopholes. No trick questions. No secret expectations that once a church gets you in the door, they can slip in on you. It’s a simple and revolutionary faith that is as open as can be. It is one where people are loved just as they are, no strings attached. And it’s a faith and a love that gives hope for a better tomorrow. It’s my hope that the Episcopal Church will stay true to their hearts and they will stand their ground … loving God and loving people.