My first time at a General Assembly for PCUSA was an experience too much for words. I’m trying to process everything – the work, the proceedings, the discussions, the community, the aftermath and backlash. One voice I continue to desire to hear is that of young adults and millenials. I’ve asked YAADs (young adult advisory delegates), TSADs (theological seminary advisory delegates) and young adult commissioners to offer their own reflections, which will be posted here for the rest of the week. -Mihee KK
It is probably safe to say we’re not talking about overture 09-20: Commissioner Resolution. On the Global Crisis for LGBT People and Their Families: A Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Response, because this one was a no-brainer, it passed on a 61-0 vote in committee and passed with consensus in Assembly.
There are many countries in our world where homosexuality is illegal and ten where it carries a death sentence. The church, regardless of where it stands on issues like marriage equality, cannot deny the basic right to life of these individuals. Yet, this particular vote was one that was very important to me. If you had asked me if I thought those who take the conservative position, opposing marriage equality, would vote against this human rights issue I would have told you that that is absurd. Yet for some reason I was anxious. This Resolution brought something to the surface for me. The church in which I was raised, my home church, and refuge as a teenager, where I learned to love Jesus, has already left the PC(USA). I deeply grieve their loss.
You see, while my home church was still part of the PC(USA) I was planning to pursue ordination through them and I once was just as conservative about LGBT issues, but then life happened. I met people who changed my paradigms and I felt convicted. In pursuing ordination one little anxiety stuck in my mind, ‘What if they ask what I believe about homosexuality?’ Now, they wouldn’t ask something explicitly like that but, officially or unofficially, it is reasonable to assume the topic would come and I would need an answer.
This was my practiced speech: “Wherever we stand on the issue of marriage pales in comparison to where we stand on the issue of life.” And I would point to the Global Crisis.
In the end they left the denomination and though I grieve the parting I am relieved that was a conversation that was not necessary. Today I also see my use of this crisis as a trump card, avoiding fully engaging the tragic reality of human lives around the world. Following the news as the situation in Uganda is getting worse, and that it was fueled by American Christians, my cynicism told me no one would care anyway, they’d be too busy protecting their own positions. Then this resolution, so far as I could tell from the twittersphere, breezed through GA without objection. Sure, I would have told you the conservatives remaining in the PC(USA) still value basic human rights, but apparently some part of me didn’t actually believe it. I thought surely someone would cause a fuss and decry the resolution as a wolf in sheep’s clothing attempting to further the “gay agenda.” I was sure I already knew what the arguments would be, but if they happened I have yet to find record of them.
As someone who prides herself on seeking understanding and reconciliation across various differences, I am finding I have a whole lot more work to do in myself. I look forward to working together with those whom I still deeply disagree on other issues, to offer God’s love, refuge, and hope for LGBT people and their families around the world.
Maggie is an alumna of the Young Adult Volunteer program of the PC(USA), a ruling elder at Maplewood Presbyterian Church in Edmonds, WA and seminarian at The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology, a lifestyle she supports by working as an administrative assistant with Presbyterian Retirement Communities Northwest. When not being excessively Presbyterian Maggie enjoys a variety of activities, most notably participating in GISHWHES (the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen). Nonetheless, upon meeting her former moderator Bruce Reyes-Chow exclaimed “Wow! You’re REALLY Presbyterian!”