So, it turns out this posting every day thing is pretty challenging, first of all because my life is pretty unpredictable, and second because other people’s lives are also unpredictable, to me and probably to them as well. Nonetheless, we have a new installment today in the #WeAretheRCA series, this one by Amy Nyland. If you are LGBTQ or an ally and would like to submit a letter to General Synod 2016, please drop me a note here or send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear General Synod 2016,
Because I attend General Synod as a guest, and not a delegate, I did not have the privilege of learning together with you in your workgroups or discussing the issues face to face with you at the tables. Thank you for your vote to change that so that Executive Ministers may become part of the very crucial conversations that occur at General Synods.
I did have the opportunity to observe the plenary sessions, to observe interactions in the lobby, chapel, and cafeteria, and to observe how folks were treated by their sisters and brothers from other parts of the denomination. I had the opportunity to hear conversations that took place on the sidewalk to and from the cafeteria, housing, and plenary hall and outside those places where we gathered. I even had the opportunity to participate in and listen to conversations off campus where any opinion was fair game.
On a notepad that sits in my kitchen, that I received from the denominational office, it says on the bottom, “Live and Love Like Jesus: Transformed and Transforming.” I heard some things at General Synod that did not model love like Jesus’. I observed behavior that looked nothing like the life Jesus led. We all did. I heard derogatory comments, abusive language, and desires to exclude people from the life of the church. What was most striking to me in all the conversations I observed or overheard was that almost none were about ministry or the movement of the Spirit in our unique contexts or the ability to follow Christ in the communities in which God has placed us. To be blocked from doing ministry we are uniquely called to do is antithetical to the gospel and our confessions. The conversations I heard centered on issues of opinion and “rightness” and not about the work of God. There was a lot of condemnation of fellow ministers and not a lot of building up of the body of Christ. The manner in which we speak against things and others says a great deal about who we are at our very core. Some spoke hopeful disagreement, and others, harsh judgment.
I think it is fair that we all have our own opinions on the matters at hand. I think it is also fair that we are able and willing to strongly disagree with one another and still remain engaged together as the body of Christ. It is important to note that there is a difference between a church with a confession and a confessional church. We are a confessional church. Therefore, this is not about what I think or what you think, but what God through Scripture and our confessions is calling us to be and do. I believe God and Scripture call Christians to take the high road. No matter our personal opinions, I believe we must behave in a manner becoming the body of Christ.
The Reverend Amy Nyland